NPR has announced the use of a new comment filtration process in an article innocently dubbed “The Right Chord With Less Discord.” Comments left by new website users will temporarily undergo review from a “community manager,” a process that NPR predicts will take less than 15 minutes:
The vast, vast majority of our community members have been model citizens, and nothing will change for you — your comments will be posted immediately. Our community manager will review the comments of a small number of current users — fewer than 2% of active users — who have demonstrated a history of breaking the discussion rules. Once these consistently adhere to the discussion rules, we’ll stop reviewing their comments before they are posted.
This decision has obviously been a problem for some people, but I’d like to make a very important point: there is filth on the internet. If you don’t believe me, look up a website called “4chan” and go to the “Random” (known by its users as /b/) forum. That specific forum is something that I often define as the “ghetto of the internet,” although I defer to Encyclopedia Dramatica’s description. NPR, like the New York Times and other respectable organizations, should be allowed to protect itself from said filth, regardless of whether or not some people feel that it’s violating their First Amendment rights. NPR has rights too, and if you don’t want to deal with or accept that fact, no one is forcing you to leave comments on NPR’s website.
Furthermore, if one were to read NPR’s Community Discussion Rules, one would discover that, aside from a questionable statement about reserving the right to “edit” posts, it’s really more of a statement about NPR’s rights as an organization (not about what you can’t do as a user). Most of the listed restrictions are common sense, such as no swearing, no personal attacks, no plagiarism, and no advertising. Although the freedom of speech technically allows for these sort of things (a civil court might disagree), banning them creates a basic level of civility on NPR, which should allow the site’s intellectual community to breathe a sigh of relief.