Naver, the operator of South Korea’s most widely used portal website, will disallow users from posting the same comment multiple times on a news article, as part of continued efforts to revamp its news display system and prevent macro automation software.
The move is the latest in Naver’s series of responses to an opinion rigging scandal in which a power blogger named “Druking” and politicians used a computer program to artificially ramp up the number of clicks on the “agree” button for specific news articles displayed on Naver, to sway public opinion.
Naver’s updated policies were publicized Monday on the company’s official blog, via a post explaining the portal’s news comment policies after the end of the local election on Wednesday.
Naver CEO Han Seong-sook speaks during a press conference at Naver Partner Square in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, on May 9. (Yonhap)
In the run-up to the election, Naver had hidden the comment section shown below political articles, with an aim to maintain neutrality. With the change, users had to manually click on a button to read the comments.
Naver said it would retain these “hide comment” features for political articles on its site even after the election. The firm will also continue to list the comments in the chronological order they were posted in, instead of showing the comments with the most “likes” at the top.
Other new policies announced by Naver include disallowing users from posting the same comment on a single news article multiple times and placing a stricter cap on the number of news comments that can be posted by a single user.
Each user -- who can create up to three different Naver accounts under one’s Korean social security number -- will be allowed a maximum of 20 comments and 50 “agrees” across all their accounts.
Naver also plans to retain its new “comment fold-in” function, through which users could hide certain comments from the feed by clicking a button, now labeled “report.”
The Korean internet giant is also in the process of changing its comment structure so that news companies can choose how they want to handle and display comments written below articles written by their reporters. The changes will be completed within the third quarter, it said.
The “Druking” incident, which surfaced in April, has ignited fury toward Naver over its apparent failure to prevent interference, leading to criticism that the portal site has become a powerful, centralized news channel that can be manipulated to control public opinion.
By Sohn Ji-young (firstname.lastname@example.org