HKFP joined many other big news outlets in 2018 in disabling website comments.

In the era of social media, the conversation has already shifted to Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, with very few readers sharing their views beneath articles on the website. There are, however, a number of other reasons why we removed our comment plugin:

  • Our website previously used a Facebook comment plugin which syncronised comments made on our website articles with comments made on our Facebook fan page. Late last year, Facebook axed the “comment mirroring” feature, meaning the comments on the website and were no longer merged. This fractured the conversation and – since very few people commented directly via the website – reactions collected below each article mostly dried up.
  • Large news outlets like CNN, Bloomberg, NBC, VICE and NPR have disabled their comment sections with many citing issues with trolling, spam and community management.
  • When comments are hosted away from our self-hosted domain, there are fewer legal risks when it comes to libel, defamation and rules governing contempt of court. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have their own community management policies in place, as well as reporting mechanisms should problems arise.
  • Our website is faster-loading when there are fewer plugins to serve up.
  • The Guardian employs full-time dedicated staff to manage comments and receives over a million comments per month. Our five-person newsroom, however, has limited funds and capacity. Active comment moderation across more than 12,000 articles is a misuse of our meagre resources and manpower when donors expect funds to be directed at news production.

Direct feedback is always welcomed and read. And we will still enforce our Community Guidelines when we spot, or are alerted to, violations across our social media platforms.