SEOUL, Apr. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean internet experts are voicing different opinions regarding regulations on the comments sections typically found on news websites following a recent online opinion rigging scandal.
In the wake of the ‘Druking’ scandal, which involves politicians who are accused of rigging public opinion by using an automation program, some South Korean communication experts are calling for the government to intervene.
Mass communications professor Choi Jin-bong at Sungkonghoe University says the Druking scandal has exposed the loopholes in the comments sections.
“Web portals have the responsibility to operate an online platform for public opinion objectively. But the recent scandal shows they are not immune to illegal opinion rigging,” Choi said.
“Though outlinks that send users straight to the news website have been suggested as an alternative, web portals have yet to embrace these types of initiatives. Web portals are complicit in the latest opinion rigging scandal,” Choi added.
Others are calling for tougher measures, including an all-out ban on comments, as web portals have essentially become a ‘battlefield’ of public opinion.
“If countering opinion rigging is not possible technologically, we must acknowledge our technological shortcomings and do away with the comments sections on web portal news services,” said professor Shin Yul, who teaches political science at Myongji University.
While Shin argues the ‘best comment’ feature obstructs freedom of speech in that it forces people to think along the same lines as others, professor Choi disagrees.
“Banning the comments sections overall could threaten freedom of speech,” Choi said.
Professor Han Kyu-sup from Seoul National University thinks South Korean web portals need a major overhaul.
“Naver’s news distribution system is encouraging media outlets to churn out sensational and polarized articles for clicks. To get the media environment back on track, outlinks could prove effective in the long run.”
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)