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ScienceShot: Has the Internet Turned Us Into Jerks?

In the real world, social pressure usually keeps us from acting like jerks in large groups of people. The same holds in the online world, according to a new study. Researchers combing through 2.5 million posts from 20,000 users in 20 Internet discussion groups have found that, despite the anonymous monikers employed by most participants, the tone of online discussions was positive or neutral 85% of the time. What's more, discussion groups that were home to positive or neutral conversations tended to remain that way over several weeks, even as different users flitted in and out. The analysis, published this week in Scientific Reports, suggests that even though we may hide behind pseudonyms online, we still feel pressure to be civil.

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