Online trolls may not just be offensive — they may be making you dumber, a new study found. The comments section of science news may be coloring the way readers think on the most unbiased science stories, can dumb down the discussion and impact what news is more easily available, two University of Wisconsin Madison researchers said.
“The day of reading a story and then turning the page to read another is over,” Dietram Scheufele wrote in the journal Science. “Now each story is surrounded by numbers of Facebook likes and tweets and comments that color the way readers interpret even truly unbiased information. This will produce more and more unintended effects on readers, and unless we understand what those are and even capitalize on them, they will just cause more and more problems.”
The duo pointed out that the comments impact how the stories came up on Google and on the websites they’re posted.