Summary of Why Good People Turn Bad Online

Looking for the article?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 5 minutes.

Why Good People Turn Bad Online summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Hot Topic


Picture your ancestors. Living in small communities, they interacted face-to-face with the same people every day. Social consequences were immediate. Bad behavior could lead to ostracism from the community and the loss of long-term survival advantages. It paid to be agreeable, so humans evolved to be agreeable. Now contrast that scenario with today’s online environment. Where one led to cooperation, the other has led to trolling and tribalism. getAbstract recommends writer and broadcaster Gaia Vince’s overview of how algorithms prompt the worst in human behavior to all Internet users.

About the Author

Gaia Vince is the author of Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made.



Researchers have used “public goods games” to observe how people behave in situations that test cooperation. These games reveal that most people’s immediate instinct is to cooperate for the greater good. Though humans seem to have evolved for cooperation, the online environment lacks characteristics that favor these traits. Anonymity and physical distance mean that people are unlikely to face negative repercussions for their online behavior. Meanwhile, algorithms prioritize content that increases engagement, and moral outrage is a significant driver of that engagement. Studies show&#...

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Don't Feed the Trolls, and Other Hideous Lies
‘Angels’ in Hell
The Science of Change
Using AI to Enhance Business Operations
Competing on the Rate of Learning
She Helped Wreck the News Business. Here’s Her Plan to Fix It

Related Channels

Comment on this summary