Insiders Question The Effectiveness Of Disabling Comments On Entertainment News;

Following the recent shutdown of the comment sections of entertainment news articles on Korea’s main portal sites, EDaily spoke to insiders who said that more needs to be done to combat malicious comments.

Recently, the portal Nate followed Naver and Daum in making the decision to disable the comment feature on its articles about entertainment news. The change went into effect on July 7.

However, EDaily reported that day that many people in the entertainment industry are saying that simply stopping people from commenting on news article doesn’t lead to a decrease in malicious comments overall. The outlet states that many insiders say, “The malicious comments aren’t decreasing. You’re just not seeing them.” They’re therefore calling for substantial countermeasures.

Kakao’s Daum tentatively disabled the comment feature last October and both Daum and the messaging app Kakao Talk removed related searches for people. Daum also took down the display of realtime trending searches on its site. In March, Naver tentatively suspended comments on its entertainment news articles and disabled related search terms for names, and it later revamped its reaction emojis to remove the “angry” reaction on entertainment articles.

EDaily says that while it appeared that malicious comments lessened following Daum and Naver closing down the sections, malicious commenters have widened their radius by moving over to social media and YouTube, and their posts have become rampant. It’s also reported that there’s been a rapid increase in cases of people going directly to a celebrity’s social media account to leave them malicious comments there instead, with the most common method being through Instagram direct messages (DMs). This is becoming a particularly serious issue considering that DMs allow people to send overt and direct malicious comments to celebrities without others being able to see them.

Stars suffering due to these malicious comments are fighting back by vowing to “take legal action” and “show no leniency,” but EDaily notes that the problem itself isn’t eradicated since people walk away with just a fine, basically a slap on the wrist.

Following Sulli’s passing last year, lawmakers proposed a bill known as the “Sulli Act” that aimed to counter malicious comments. However, it wasn’t able to be passed through the full session before the end of the 20th National Assembly, and EDaily states that it’s essentially off the table now. The outlet quotes a source in the political sphere as saying, “In order for the ‘Sulli Act’ to pass, it needs to be proposed again to the 21st National Assembly and pass through the full session. However, there’s currently no assembly member that will propose a bill about that, and interest in it has really dropped as well.”

EDaily reports that there are also mixed opinions online about the shutdown of the comment feature. Some netizens agree with the measure and say, “It’s the best way to reduce exposure to malicious comments.” Others are skeptical about it and say that the matter would be dealt with if the portals appointed more staff to monitor comments or that disabling the comments is only a temporary fix. Some are also calling for an end to the display of realtime search word rankings.

Many people in the industry also see the shutdown as something that might temporarily decrease malicious comments but doesn’t stamp out the issue.

A source referred to as “A” who works in management for several idols said, “Rather than closing down entertainment news comments, the priority should be making it so that people don’t easily retrieve sensational articles and posts in a search.”

Another industry insider referred to as “B” told EDaily, “Through an increase in monitoring and filtering, measures need to be put in place so that people can’t easily leave malicious comments.” They also suggested that the use of a quasi-real-name system should be carefully considered. This quasi-real-name system most likely refers to previous calls for a system where commenters’ IDs and IP addresses would made visible.

Some celebrities have shared positive reactions to the shutdown of the comment sections, such as EXID’s Hani expressing her gratitude over the fact that both she and her parents no longer have to see malicious comments about her on news articles. Nevertheless, EDaily’s report illustrates that many in the industry are hoping that more will be done to combat the issue.

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