September 25, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Sun’s Facebook Comments Need Oversight

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To the Editor:

The Sun’s Facebook comments section needs to be moderated. The comments on Amelia Zohore’s ’21 latest piece, “Loteria, the Ivy League Stripper,” makes it clear that The Sun’s online platform has become a vehicle for those who aim to impugn the essential dignity of The Sun’s columnists as well as marginalized groups.

Commentary below Zohore’s column and other posts by The Sun frequently contains language that perpetuates hatred toward low-income people, women, nonbinary people and people of color. Implementing a clear and concise set of rules about what constitutes an appropriate comment within The Sun’s social media pages will promote productive discourse and preserve the essential dignity of columnists and identity groups the paper frequently discusses.

There is a precedent for this kind of action. In an article announcing the winner of the student-elected trustee campaign of 2016, a number of anonymous, racist and homophobic comments were left in response to the election of a gay Taiwanese-American student. In response, The Sun removed its built-in commenting tool on its website and limited commenting to Facebook alone.

Requiring Facebook-based comments makes it more difficult to comment anonymously, but it does not absolve the problem of hateful comments. Additionally, the use of anonymous Facebook profiles often occurs. Setting standards for appropriate comments will help mitigate this problem. Major media platforms such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fox News all have their own comment moderation policies.

The Sun must work towards accountability for the impact of their media on campus climate and its role as a platform for public discourse. Setting strong and just standards for appropriate commentary on its social media pages is an essential first step.

Cole Johnston ’20