June 5, 2019
[Single panel comic depicting a screenshot of an Internet article, showing the article title, lines of wavy characters representing the article text, and several comments from readers of the article with their profile pictures.]
Backlash: Internet users are outraged over news stories using a handful of random comments to support arbitrary narratives!
[Close-up of Megan:]
I can’t believe how easy it is to create an impression of peer consensus.
[Close-up of Hairy:]
This dynamic is so easily manipulated and it freaks me out. xkcd.com/1019
[Full picture of Hairbun:]
Everytime I share something and a friend responds “Haha, did you see the top comments…” it just reminds me how influential these things are in shaping the impressions of even relatively internet-savvy readers.
[Close-up of Cueball on a black background:]
NPR got rid of comments in 2016 when they realized they all came from a handful of visitors posting hundreds of times a month.
[Full picture of two guys, Cueball and Hairy:]
Eventually social norms will adapt to this stuff, but it needs to hurry up.
[Close-up of Ponytail:]
I have nine followers and created my account last month; how am I being quoted in this news article??