In proof that there may yet be hope for comments sections everywhere, a new experiment has shown that there are effective ways of asking people to use less racist language online. As The Atlantic reports,
In the summer of 2015, Greg, Rasheed, and a few of their peers started fighting back against racism on Twitter. They found people who used the n-word and gently admonished them, reminding them that they were harassing and hurting real people.
Which is ironic, since neither Greg nor Rasheed were real people themselves. They were bots.
They were the creations of Kevin Munger, a politics student at New York University. By programming a variety of Twitter bots to respond to racist abuse against black users, he showed that a simple one-tweet rebuke can actually reduce online racism. “I like to read this as optimistic,” he says. “It is possible to change people’s behavior and not just for a short amount of time.”