The toxicity of political discourse on Reddit is distinctive, but why is it that way? There are two theories: the norm-conforming process and the emergence of distinctive toxicity. If the former is true, then a microtargeting process is also likely to emerge. The latter focuses on a narrow set of topics that a single user finds interesting. In both theories, the toxicity of political content is enhanced by a broader audience.
Subreddits with distinctive toxicity on reddit
We studied 65 political subreddits with characteristic toxicity levels on Reddit. The center-right column shows the average monthly number of users, and the right-most column lists the number of comments and newcomer percentages. Each subreddit is ranked based on its toxicity. Below, we present the median values of comments produced on each subreddit. We note that toxicity levels varied significantly for different subreddits.
Toxic comments on the subreddit were classified using an API perspective classifier, which has been applied to the Reddit community and other online communities. The algorithm has been trained to identify the comment content of particular topics. The classifier was then trained to identify a sub reddit distinct toxicity. This approach has been successful in identifying comments containing harmful and potentially harmful content.
Toxic content varies according to community. Toxic content should make readers want to leave the subreddit. In r/NeutralPolitics, for example, 4.7% of comments are toxic. On the other hand, 37.1% of comments on r/uncensorednews are toxic, but newcomers are less likely to be toxic than the average Reddit user.
Transformative learning effect of norm conforming processes
The transformative learning effect of norm-conforming processes on r/Reddit politics has been studied in several social science research projects, including an experiment examining the influence of newcomers in a political subreddit. This study looked at newcomers’ posts in other subreddits and found that they exhibited the same toxicity before joining r/NeutralPolitics.
This study used four different methods to measure toxicity levels. The y-axis indicates toxicity levels and the dotted, gray line represents the average monthly toxicity level for all political subreddits. For visual interpretation, a subreddit’s name is displayed above the line. The graph also contains a subset of subreddits, with their names above the line. The experiment also uses eleven labels as ground truth and a human baseline for each subreddit.
Transformative learning is the process of a social actor changing his or her behavior. It takes place when an individual becomes more aware of the societal norms that he or she participates in. Norm-conforming processes can alter the way individuals communicate and engage with social interactions. This is the case in Reddit politics and other social media. This research has implications for both the practice of political activism and the study of norm-conforming processes on social media.
Impact of microtargeting on distinctive toxicity
Cambridge Analytica, a firm founded by American investor Robert Mercer, used Kosinski’s method to analyze people and figure out which kind of campaign advertising they’d most like to see. That data helped the firm to influence many people during the 2016 US presidential election. Since then, people have raised concerns about microtargeting and fake news, and whether or not such information is appropriate.