News24 to use artificial intelligence in moderating comments

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  • News24 will allow readers to make comments below articles when it launches digital subscriptions in August.
  • The new commenting platform will make use of artificial intelligence to moderate comments.
  • It will not allow hate speech, personal attacks, vulgarity, commercial promotion, false personas, spam or incoherence to be published.

News24 will reintroduce comments below articles when our digital subscription service launches in August.

Subscribers will be able to air their views and make informed contributions below articles for the first time since News24 cancelled its commenting platform in 2015.

READ | Paying to read: News24 follows global trends in ensuring quality, independent reportage

With the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) to moderate comments, the new commenting platform will reward relevant and insightful contributions.

Hateful and discriminatory comments will automatically be filtered for human moderation, using sophisticated software that many global publishers, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, have implemented.

"The is one of the most exciting aspects of our paywall launch," said Adriaan Basson, editor-in-chief of News24. "Since we took down comments in 2015, our readers have been begging us to return the ability for you to make your voices heard. We have found the perfect solution."

Subscribers will be able to comment and read comments on News24 and all our sections, including Fin24, Sport24 and Channel24. Comments will be moderated in accordance with our community guidelines.


Subscribers are encouraged to air their opinions about our articles, share knowledge, information or new facts, or provide tip offs for stories News24 should investigate.

If you like a comment, you will be able to "respect" it.

News24's moderators will have the ability to feature top comments and commentators.

Subscribers will be able to interact directly with News24's editors and journalists on this new commenting platform.

Basson said it was the right time to bring back comments after switching off the platform in 2015.

READ | Media24 announces possible closure of several print titles

"The previous commenting platform did not have sophisticated AI that flagged unacceptable and hateful contributions. Humans had to delete every comment that did not comply with our commenting policy.

"But all of this changed in 2016 when top publishers in the US, like the New York Times and The Washington Post, collaborated with data scientists to develop The Coral Project (now Coral by Vox Media). The same software, that News24 will use, automatically flags banned and toxic comments and words. Our moderators will have the opportunity to publish or delete these comments," said Basson.

Coral gives publishers like News24 the ability to set the toxicity level for comments that should be automatically published and those that must go through human moderation.

READ | Good news!': News24 readers respond to news of subscription service

Our new commenting platform will not allow hate speech, personal attacks, vulgarity, profanity, commercial promotion, false personas, spam or incoherence to be published.

Commentators who transgress our commenting policy will be warned and/or banned.

Said Basson: "We don't want our readers to have to leave News24 to air their opinions or contributions on our articles and columns. The popular social media platforms are drowning in fake news, hatred and filth.

"From August, subscribers will be able to talk to each other and to us in a civil and informative way, right here on their news platform of choice."

*What do you think about our plans to bring comments back to News24? Let us know at

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