The Citizen’s Guide to Hate-Sharing
A mental clamour. Your mind grows cluttered with draft tweets as you rapidly scan Miranda Devine’s latest piece — “IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM, WE MUST BAN HOMOSEXUALS” — which demonstrates, once and for all, that she is really just the absolute, total, utter worst. You’re quaking with rage in a stale train carriage, and no one looks like they’re willing to hear to your seething fury.
So, you bring your trembling finger down on the the share button, with a spurt of furious commentary. “Miranda Divine is Murdoch MSM puppet — this is disgusting! #auspol #msm #onetermtony”. Your friends see your post and the same electric sparks of rage light up in their brains. Each of them jabs the nearest share button. No good comes out of this, but it seems to be an unavoidable phenomenon.
Sometimes it’s worth sharing something terrible. It can be particularly funny, or it can be harmful, and it’s worth drawing a dangerous wrong committed by a media outlet. It helps us collectively take action against bad, dumb things.
Yesterday, The Age published a truly horrible opinion piece on domestic violence, from a registered clinical psychologist. At the time of writing, it’s been shared 357 times on Twitter, and more than 1,800 times on Facebook (and once on Google Plus). 229 people are reading the article at the time of writing.
We can’t tell how many hits it’s had, but it’s the most popular at the time of writing, and also the most commented.
Bad news for the victims of pathetic, swivel-eyed violent men — good news for iiNet, income protection, Netflix and Helen Mirren.
A response published at The Age criticises the original but fails to take the editor to task for publishing it in the first place.
Whether it’s right-wing columnist rage-baiting or misinformed health professionals writing stuff that hurts the victims of shitty men, hate-sharing isn’t going anywhere, so here are some ways you can do it without rewarding the publications that consciously choose to prod us with racist, homophobic, hateful, anti-scientific crap.
The simple act of posting a link to a site counts as doing them a favour — Google uses the number of times people have linked to a site as part of its way of ranking search results. The more you link, the higher they go.
http://www.donotlink.com/ is the best way of countering this — it embeds your link in another link, so Google thinks you’ve just linked to DoNotLink rather than to the original site. This is good for blog posts or small, unknown sites — places that don’t rely on revenue from page-hits, and that rely on link-sharing to rise in prominence. They do this by the following steps:
This url is blocked in our robots.txt file, so (search engine) robots are discouraged from crawling it.
The “nofollow” attribute of the link and the intermediate page give robots another reminder to not crawl the link.
If a known robot does decide to crawl the link, our code will identify it and serve it a blank page (403 Forbidden)instead of redirecting to the url.
Some sites are so big that even a large number of people sharing the URL isn't going to make much difference to an already-highly ranked website. But for many of these sites, advertising revenue is usually linked (though, it’s complex) to the quantity of traffic driven to that site (Google Adsense uses ‘revenue per thousand impressions’, or RPM). More simply, it seems logical advertisers would feel comfortable choosing sites that draw lots of hits, however they’re drawn.
Easily, the best way of dealing with this is using a website called Archive.today. It saves a copy of a link on a separate server, including metadata about when it was saved, and how to cite it. If that website is down for whatever reason, use WebCite — it works the same way.
If none of these work, copy the text of the article in to PasteBin, save it and share a link to that. If there are pictures, take a screenshot and paste that in to your Facebook / Twitter post instead. If it’s behind a paywall, save a PDF and upload it to Google Drive , Dropbox or Scribd.
If all else fails; take a screenshot and post that. It doesn’t take long, and the more we do it, the less we’ll see bad content bringing good revenue.
Use your powers for good
Good hate-sharing signals to an organisation or an outlet that they’re being terrible humans, and that they should stop it, without rewarding them. It also serves as a cathartic scream of indignation.
It may just be a stupid opinion piece, or it may be a clear contributor to harm (like that piece in The Age). If you just want news for free, or you just happen to hate a particular publication, then you’re not really doing it right. Use it to counter nastiness, not to create nastiness. More generally, don’t be a dick when you add commentary. Yes; hate-sharing involves a healthy dose of rage, but try not to be mean.
I’m not really an expert in any of these things; if I've got anything wrong, hit me up on Twitter.