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Articles

2021: A Year In Conversations

By OpenWeb

Conversation is the social glue that binds us together — and in another year when many of us had to remain physically apart, a huge proportion of that conversation took place online. 

OpenWeb was there to track the ups and downs of online conversation throughout 2021, from the bitter aftermath of the Presidential election to the uplifting return of major sporting events. Through it all, we provided advice for publishers on building loyal and engaged communities by elevating the quality of online debate. Here’s our month-by-month summary of our top blogs from 2021.


Capitol riots underscore the need for healthier online discourse

The world watched in shock in January as supporters of ex-President Trump stormed the Capitol building following his election defeat. Many blamed social media platforms for promoting toxic comments that led to real-world violence. We suggested a better way to encourage online debate

War of words leads to Facebook news ban Down Under

In February, an escalating battle over revenues led to a showdown between Australian publishers and social platforms — resulting in a sudden Facebook ban for news outlets. It was a wake-up call for publishers to start building 1:1 relationships with readers, rather than ceding control to third parties. 

Learning from the world’s most disastrous experiment in content moderation

What happens when you let people argue anonymously online with no moderation? Those arguments soon become toxic and hate-filled, debasing the quality of online discourse. In May we looked at what publishers can learn from the fate of Parler, the short-lived “free speech” platform. 

Google rows back on cookie deprecation — but publishers should act anyway

Having rattled advertisers in March, in June Google postponed its deprecation date for third-party cookies by a year, to 2023. But the end is still in sight, and publishers who act now to build a solid first-party data strategy stand to reap the benefits. We looked at how reader comments can help with that

The return of the Summer Olympics — and new opportunities for publishers

After the cancellations and disappointments of 2020, the rescheduled Tokyo Summer Olympics was cause for celebration in July. Sports fans looked to online news sites for live coverage of key events, creating superb opportunities for publishers to engage audiences in quality conversation

OpenWeb and the Global Disinformation Index team up to combat toxic conversations

Our goal is to create healthy spaces for online debate, but we can only do that by working with publishers who share our values. We took a vital step in August by partnering with the Global Disinformation Index to update our publisher standards (and stop working with domains that don’t meet them). 

PSL, NFL, and a time for publishers to strengthen audience relationships

September heralded the return of some of our favorite things, like the aroma of pumpkin-spiced lattes and the excitement of a new football season. They may seem very different, but they both get people talking—and hosting those online conversations is a win-win for publishers and audiences.  

Facebook’s bad week shines a spotlight on online toxicity

The world’s biggest social platform was in trouble (again) in October. In the same week Facebook experienced two major outages, whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared on 60 Minutes to expose the way the company uses toxicity to drive “engagement”. Once again, we proposed a better way.


What will 2022 bring to the conversation?

With 2021 nearly over, we look forward to sharing many more highs and lows from the world of online conversation in 2022. If you’d like to learn more about how we help publishers to build and engage audiences — and find new revenue streams — by hosting quality online conversations, you can browse more insights on the OpenWeb blog, or contact us directly here.

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