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The Independent Institute
Commentary

Better Facebook? Better Comments? Buttons We Need


It’s no secret that the Internet revolutionized the way we communicate. The comment functions on a lot of websites, the “like” button on Facebook, the “retweet” option on Twitter, and other options on other sites are changing the Great Conversation. Nevertheless, armies of flame-war starting trolls and a nearly-infinite number of anonymous, rambling, pointless screeds suggest that Communication 2.0 is a lot less efficient than it could be. My recent articles on immigration have generated some feedback. Some was useful, some wasn’t. In the same spirit, it can be cumbersome to wade through comment threads in order to find occasional nuggets of wisdom. How can web developers fix this? The “Like” button on Facebook provides a bit of inspiration. In addition to a “Like” button and options to comment, email, or share on various social media platforms, I propose that web developers and online media companies add the following buttons and options to their websites.

1. “SCREW YOU!” This might include an option that changes it to something less family-friendly depending on the user’s filtering settings. The Facebook “Like” button has a thumbs up. This button could also use a hand gesture, but one featuring a different finger.

2. “You’re Worse Than Hitler!” What better way to discredit someone with whom you disagree than with an unfavorable comparison to Adolf Hitler? Godwin’s Law states that “(a)s an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1,” so we might as well cut to the chase. A button featuring Hitler’s image would take care of the hard work. A similar button could feature Karl Marx if one wanted to denounce the author as a communist, and another featuring a pig wearing a top hat and a monocle could be useful for anyone wishing to denounce the author as a capitalist pig.

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Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Samford University.
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