The internet’s capacity to create social equality is one of its better qualities. The days of receiving news and information from major organizations (e.g., Yahoo!) on a silver platter are over. But everyone who has a camera, a social media account, and a point to make is now able to do so.
This is beneficial in many ways and aids in elevating the perspectives of underrepresented groups. On the other hand, some marginalized individuals hold beliefs that can harm people and were marginalized for a cause. Because of this, Yahoo! Japan has imposed harsher rules regarding posting comments on news stories.
Particularly as a news aggregator, Yahoo! Japan is a very well-liked online portal in the nation, and a single prominent news item posted on Yahoo! frequently attracts hundreds to thousands of comments. All of these are created using users’ Yahoo! accounts. The majority are anonymous and have their account names partially censored. Because of their anonymity, some people may feel free to express their thoughts furiously, perhaps merely to troll.
Yahoo! has been working on it since they tightened the rules surrounding comment suspension to prevent repeat offenders. Then, in 2020, they implemented policies that required new accounts to include a phone number to prevent suspended accounts from simply registering new Yahoo! IDs and immediately restarting posting.
They have now declared that, as of mid-November, users will not even be allowed to create profiles without first registering a phone number. You cannot get around it by entering only 867-5309 or something similar because the number is confirmed through an SMS message sent to the subscriber.
In addition to reducing spam comments, Yahoo! intends to move away from a password-based login system in favor of either two-factor or biometric identification.
The requirement for a phone number comes after the Japan Fact-Check Center, an NPO with significant funding from Yahoo! and Google and run by academics and journalists, was established last month. Combating false information online is one of its missions, especially with COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Bunshun Online, a Japanese news site, offered a negative appraisal of the initiative, claiming that its scale would render it mainly ineffective. As an illustration, they pointed to Yahoo! comments as a significant source of false information that was outside the scope of the Japan Fact-Check Center’s jurisdiction and asserted that if the IT giant truly wanted to halt the spread of fake news, they could achieve much more by beginning there.
This announcement’s timing shows that Yahoo! is considering Bunshun Online’s criticisms and striving to improve its comments section while also addressing fake news on a larger scale by funding the Japan Fact-Check Center. Even though Yahoo! never responded to Bunshun Online’s criticisms.
It’s too soon to tell if this new initiative will be beneficial or if it’s the best way to handle the issue at hand. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below if you believe Yahoo! should attempt something new. Of course, there is no need to include a phone number!
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