The big struggle on the web is that people want to go to one place, but they want to have many identities and varieties of discourse.
I was thinking about this in terms of the election the other day. On of the reasons this primary seems more vicious and personal to people is that the online spaces are somewhat differently formed. In 2008, I could go to my own political community, Blue Hampshire (RIP, 2015) or go to DailyKos. And in those places I could be the political person I was.
But most of us have only room for a couple habits. So people become political in the other spaces. Twitter. Facebook.
Of course, neither Twitter or Facebook is set up to be a political space the way that DailyKos or Blue Hampshire was. In both those cases the algorithms and the interfaces were refined over time to minimize the sort of trolling, abuse, and flame wars political sites tend to produce.
An unremarked effect of going to a small number of general purpose sites is they must push all types of discourse through the same interface, and more or less the same algorithms. Nearly all political sites have affordances which average community-produced comment ratings and autohide trolling comments — you need that to run a large community. But Facebook and Twitter don’t have comment ratings, they have mechanisms to report individuals, which don’t work, because the whole point of hiding trolling comments is to get them hidden before they cause community damage. On DailyKos, a trolling comment will be hidden sometimes, in less than a minute. Try that on Facebook.
This is just one example