Article comments disappearing in South Africa

Half of South Africa’s largest news websites have closed their comment sections, including the top three: News24, TimesLive, and IOL.

A year ago, News24 switched off its comments on articles, as the “tone and substance of many of our comments appear increasingly at odds with the mission of editorial excellence”.

News24 said many comments drifted towards hate speech and were often laced with prejudice.

A month after News24, IOL followed suit. “We are of the view that instances of abuse in our comments section have become untenable,” said IOL.

“As in life, it only takes a few selfish individuals to ruin things for everyone else,” said Adrian Ephraim, Managing Editor of IOL.

In the beginning of 2016, The Daily Maverick closed its article comments, stating it “had to contend with the fact that a small but significant percentage of our commentators troll our site”.

The Daily Maverick was tired of these trolls “flinging filth at our writers, our opinionistas, and at other contributors and commentators who happen to disagree with their finely-tuned Weltschmerz”.

There are currently no signs that article comments will be returning to these sites, which means South Africans are moving to social media to share their views.

The table below gives an overview of article comments on the top news websites in South Africa.

Biggest South African News Websites
Website Unique South African Browsers Allow Article Comments
News24 7.9 million No
TimesLive 4.0 million No
IOL 3.2 million No
MSN 2.7 million Yes
eNCA 2.2 million Yes
Sport24 2.2 million No
EWN 2.2 million Yes
MyBroadband 1.8 million Yes
SowetanLive 1.7 million Yes
Fin24 1.7 million No

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Article comments disappearing in South Africa