We’ve decided to stop allowing anonymous comments on our websites.
This should put a name and a face to the opinions below our stories. Our hope is that a lack of anonymity will encourage accountability and reduce some of the boorish behavior exhibited on our website pages.
In turn, we will stop pre-approving comments before they are published. We began screening comments for extreme language about 10 months ago, but Facebook comments will not be pre-approved by our editors.
We can still remove offensive comments, and users can still flag passages they find inappropriate for an editor’s review. Also, Facebook has its own privacy and user policies, so commenters may want to consult those.
When we make the switch, our old comment threads will disappear. They typically vanish when a story is archived in our database, but the new system will not maintain the old threads.
Other newspapers are already using social media for this purpose. The Orange County Register switched to Facebook comments not too long ago. The Los Angeles Times, which owns our papers, uses Facebook comments for some of its blogs.
This not a foolproof solution to a problem dogging newspapers nationwide. We know some folks will create fake profiles, and under our old system we were plagued with plenty of people posing as someone else.
But we think this extra step will reduce some of the hateful speech and steer the conversations back to where they belong: on the issues.