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Reading Facebook comments on news articles can turn you into a toxic person

By Chris Stokel-Walker

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Anatolii Babii / Alamy

If you dig into the comments on Facebook posts on news articles, you become a more toxic person, as an analysis of nearly 6.5 million comments suggests.

Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, UK, and his colleagues collected the comments from 11,305 Facebook posts published by 33 news outlets in October 2018. They then asked an electoral bureau to survey 2,200 people in the US for a nationally representative sample.

The aim of the research was to find out whether online comment areas play a role in increasing toxicity both online and offline. “When we see bad behavior online …