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Gaycken, Sandro

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Handelsblatt - Germany | 23/03/2015

User comments should be scrapped

The opinions on the Ukraine conflict gathered in representative surveys in Germany and the user comments posted on online media diverge widely, a study by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research reveals. According to the study online commentators show more sympathy for Russia. The media should deactivate their commentary functions, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt demands, arguing that the difference in opinions "confirms the widely held suspicion among experts that online discussions are used far more intensively by people who feel directly affected, have a stronger sense of mission and a lot of time on their hands. In the case of Russia an additional component may play a role: 'information operations'. The Russian military is notorious for setting great store by propaganda and using it intensively. … What we see in online commentaries is therefore not free and democratic discourse. … If it is primarily radicals, lunatics and foreign powers who adjust articles to their own perceptions, we can do without such commentaries."

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