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Kakao to ban comments for news related to celebrities

Oct 26,2019
Kakao will be discontinuing celebrity news comments sections on KakaoTalk and Daum and disabling other related services, with at least one feature shut down abruptly on Friday.

“We have been operating comment services for individuals to share their opinions, but it has become difficult to neglect side effects caused by the service,” said Kakao co-CEO Yeo Min-soo during a briefing with reporters Friday in Pangyo, Gyeonggi.

In particular, the company’s services will no longer be offering related keywords with searches so users are not so easily led astray into celebrity-related gossip.

“Business-wise, banning comments is definitely a risk, but we decided to care for people first,” Yeo said. “We have seen the consequences.”

Last week, when singer and actor Sulli, whose real name is Choi Jin-ri, took her life, online information was brought into the spotlight and the possible detrimental effects of negative comments online.

Kakao’s service will be reformed gradually.

Real-time hot keywords shown in the news tab of KakaoTalk was closed as of 1 p.m. Friday. The company said it is reviewing ways to make hot keywords more useful and not sensational.

The comment service on celebrity-related news articles will be disabled by the end of month on both KakaoTalk and Daum. A service to provide related keywords on specific people after searching will be discontinued by the end of the year on both platforms as well.

The comment sections on political and social news will be offered as is for now. The company said it is still reviewing whether to ban comments on news not related to celebrities.

The tech company also revealed some of its reform plans for its news service.

Kakao said its goal is to develop a subscription-based news service and that it has already started preparing the new platform. The platform may have no comment section at all.

“As we have to discuss more with the press, which are our service partners, we are not in the stage yet to reveal details,” said Joh Su-yong, co-CEO of Kakao. “We are figuring out a way to embrace existing media agencies as well as individuals who create content.”

Joh said he does not think “it is ideal for portals to play the role of agenda setting,” adding that he is thinking deeply on what role a portal site should play in the content distribution ecosystem.

BY KIM JEE-HEE, LEE SOO-KI [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]