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Can We Find Real Community Online?


You probably know the worst parts best: The trolling, the misinformation, the spats that quickly become political and escalate out of control. But conversations that happen on the internet can also be civil and informative.

There’s the Facebook group Vaccine Talk, which uses a mix of rules and active moderation to create a culture of fact-based information sharing. There are forums on Reddit that take on heated topics while steering clear of insults. And Twitter recently launched a new product to support healthy conversations called “Communities.”

What can we learn from the spaces where fruitful conversations happen? What are these groups doing that is working so well? Is true belonging and connection possible on the internet?

In this Times virtual event, Shira Ovide, who writes the subscriber-only newsletter On Tech, will explore the forces behind the internet’s healthiest communities and look for lessons on what makes them work. She will talk to Steve Huffman, the co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit; Kate Bilowitz, the co-founder of Vaccine Talk; and Claudia Lo, a longtime community moderator and design researcher. She will also speak to Latrice Royale, a former contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” about how drag performers manage conversations in their often unruly communities.

Ahead of the event, you are invited to join our own online community on Slack, where you can talk with fellow subscribers about the changing role of technology in your life.

This discussion is part of The Times’s virtual event series that’s just for subscribers.

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