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S. Korean major web portals strengthen measures against malicious comments

South Korean giants such as Samsung Electronics rely on key imports from Japan to make crucial components for smartphones and computer displays. Photo: AFP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

SEOUL, Mar 19, 2020, The Korea Times. Naver, the country’s largest web portal operator, will tackle “malicious online comments” made against celebrities by disabling comments for its entertainment section, as well as making public all “private” comments posted by users in its news section, The Korea Times reported.

Users did have the option of making their comments “public” or “private,” but starting Thursday all posts on Naver news will be made public.

“We have decided to shut down the entertainment news comment section until further notice,” Naver said.
The company added that, excluding posts that have been deleted, it will track all current posts and the number of comments on them, as well as revealing the number of deleted and shared posts within the last 30 days.

The move comes following criticism from the government and the public, and growing calls to strengthen the portal’s regulations and punishment of “internet trolls,” amid concerns over the mental health of celebrities after a number of high-profile suicides.

In addition, Naver will prohibit newly registered members from posting comments for seven days to prevent trolls from swiftly registering and deactivating accounts after posting malicious comments.

“This is a measure to prevent and make it difficult for internet trolls to create an ID and immediately delete the account after engaging in cyber bullying, as well as making it difficult to transition it into a dormant account,” a Naver official said.

People connecting to Naver via social networking services (SNS) using unverified Twitter and Facebook accounts will be blocked from posting comments.

The users’ nickname and profile picture will also be revealed on top of comments they have made previously.

The company also plans to apply a new system using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to better track and ban “red-flagged” users as well as filtering their negative posts.

Last month, Naver said it will temporarily halt its real-time most-searched words feature, and stop showing related keywords until further notice, ahead of the April 15 general election. The election campaign period is a time when large amounts of false news are released.

Kakao, which owns Daum, the country’s second largest portal, was the first to initiate such moves last October, after K-pop singer Sulli committed suicide due to malicious online rumors spread earlier in the month. Her friend and fellow singer Goo Ha-ra followed suit taking her own life in November in similar circumstances.

“We decided there was a need to strengthen user protection so we initiated the move by abolishing the comments section as well as real-time searched words and individual related search suggestions,” a Daum official said.

Since July, 2017, Kakao has been the front-runner in the industry in cracking down on malicious comments by filtering out insults and defamation through the use of AI technology.

“Once reported, not only will the malicious comment be deleted but major restrictions will be placed on to the user. We will also notify the victim of the results,” the Daum official added.

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