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Safer Online Conversations For a More Civil Web

In this episode, our host Tiffany Xingyu Wang interviewed Roee Goldberg, COO and Co-founder of OpenWeb, a social engagement platform creating trusted spaces for quality conversations that can move society forward. They discussed how OpenWeb is working with online publications helping them engage with their communities and establish civil conversations across their digital platforms.

 The Online Hate Crisis

We all know there is a crisis happening on the internet. Online hate speech, toxicity and divisiveness, are all contributing to turning social media platforms into echo chambers that alienate and separate us. In the worst cases, the harm spills into the real world with terrible consequences, as we have already witnessed in the past.  

OpenWeb is countering this phenomenon by working with the world's top publications (currently with 70% of the biggest media houses in the US) to make online conversation across their digital properties safer, in a way that also helps them to benefit from their users’ admiration and loyalty

Creating Trusted Spaces For Quality Online Conversations 

In order to do that, first and foremost publishers need to create a good positive and healthy user experience. In fact, only between 3% and 15% of the unique users are the ones actually responsible for the vast majority of a publication’s traffic, more than 40% of it. These are the users who are loyal to the brand, stay more on the site, interact with it and keep coming back. And they form the community publishers should focus on for building quality conversations

As Roee explained, while at first glance it might seem that toxic conversations on social media can boost engagement, in reality, people do not come back to those platforms where they witnessed toxicity. Instead, what really works in the long term is good content. 

That is why OpenWeb believes that elevating the good in many cases is much more important than just eliminating the bad. Not only do they help publishers to erase from their platforms anything referring to racism, spamming, trolling, bullying or any type of obscenity, but also add valuable content, facts-based validation, and a variety of different ideas to favor productive, on-point conversations that would attract loyal users. 

The Return For Publishers 

 Loyalty and retention are becoming the greatest strategic assets for publications. They mean more registrations and subscriptions, which translate pretty quickly to higher revenue and a users’ lifetime value five to ten times higher than any other visits on the website.

These practices also create valuable first-party data taking away the need to leverage third-party information, a trade risk these days. According to Roee, this would also fill the gap between social media and media publications’ capabilities in data collection, allowing the latter to know more about their users, better understand their audiences and build effective strategies. 

Civility As A Synonym For Safety 

One of OpenWeb’s key values is civility. The concept identifies the good intent of not being toxic, aggressive or unfair and trying to elevate the discussion, to progress the conversation. This very much applies to online conversations too and ensures a higher level of safety at all levels

At Oasis Consortium, we often talk about safety at a community level and civility is the best practice to encourage each other to keep the community safe. So, really valuable product features would not only drive user engagement but also keep the very valuable audiences in a safer environment

But How Can We Make Online Conversations Safer? 

In Roee’s opinion, embracing AI and machine learning is a real game-changer for publishers. Allocating resources in data would allow them to accomplish tasks previously done manually in a faster and more efficient way. 

Also, a mindset shift, particularly among executives, has become critical in order to actively start thinking about the solutions that need to be put in place. This means focusing not only on blocking the bad but also on incentivizing the good by creating quality content and ensuring transparency to users. That is the path to make the web a safer and more civil place where quality conversations can flourish. 

Watch the full interview below or listen and subscribe to the Brand Safety Exchange podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Key Lessons To Amplify Your Brand’s Safety:

  • Focus on your community of loyal users to create trusted spaces for healthy online conversations 
  • Erase from the conversations on your digital platforms anything referring to racism, spamming, trolling, bullying or any type of obscenity
  • Favor productive, on-point conversations by adding valuable content, facts-based validation, and a variety of different ideas