Growing civility on the Web?

That's what Lee Rainie, director of the Washington-based Pew Internet & American Life Project, is seeing on the Web, he told the Boston Globe: Social norms that mitigate offensive behavior are developing. "There is a quiet but growing movement to forge a truce in what [Rainie] calls 'an arms race of name-calling' on the Web." Despite "the buckets of venom [that] still flow across the Web every day," as the Globe put it, and "whereas a few years ago online insults would lead to an escalation in a war of words, the evolution of the Web has led to an informal code of conduct in online communities such as or in social-networking sites like Facebook. People who sling invective online are dubbed 'trolls'," the Globe quotes one online communications specialist as saying, "and are either ignored or told to get lost," according to Simmons College's Amanda Voodre. She told the Globe that younger Net users are seeing through those stabs at provocation, which defeats the whole purpose of a whole range of juvenile behaviors, from flaming to harassing to bullying. It's partly a matter of just "getting it" – digital natives being seasoned enough in online communications that they just roll their eyeballs at comments from predators and jerks – and partly good media-literacy education, which teaches critical thinking about what's uploaded as well as downloaded (for example, see "How social influencing works").

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