“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
? George R.R. Martin
Finland enjoys an image of grandiosity on the shiny outside. The happiest country in the world, a young and progressive female government, low daily Corona infection rates, free education, and healthcare! Finland is topping numerous statistics like the smart use of a bulky language barrier for any outsider who does not have a sound reason to learn Finnish. Too many immigrants rely on English-language news outlets, never getting deep enough into Finland’s actual reality behind due to the language barrier. Life is good!
YLE News in English has been the only main channel for following current affairs along with some smaller news outlets such as Helsinki Times or Foreigner.fi. Until 2012, Helsingin Sanomat International Edition stopped publishing news in English. Naturally, the selection of news in English is smaller, pre-selected in relevance for immigrants or international audiences, commonly with the same topic having a different news slant in English than Finnish (a recent example: the mental wellbeing of the Finnish youth). International readers or residents with no or poor command of Finnish appreciate the effort.
However, frequent readers have noticed that hot topics in English do not appear on social media, leaving them with a bitter taste of YLE’s intentions to discourage heated discussions.
YLE News‘ announcement was made on April 16th, 2021 on Facebook:
“We have extremely limited resources to moderate comments. This way, we still post all our stories on Facebook, but we don’t have the burden of moderation.”
“Our team does not moderate anything on the Finnish side. We have to use our resources as best we see fit, and on balance, we think it’s better to use the time to produce news rather than moderate comments.”
Incorrect. YLE Uutiset, the Finnish Facebook feed, defines in its code of conduct what kind of comments are banned and confirms that “the discussions are moderated in accordance with Finnish legislation, the journalist’s instructions and YLE’s values.” At least, in theory. Thus, the Finnish- and English-language Facebook feeds do have a code of conduct (see below).
YLE News‘ code of conduct is used to urge readers to “civilized discussion” and threaten to expel “repeat offenders” from commenting. Interventions have occurred frequently. Due to the comments found in the Finnish-language service, which can be filled with hatred, immigration mockery, and personal insults, it may appear that there is no moderation even if this is not the case. *
Upon their announcement of Yle News’ termination of comments this month, YLE News faced uncomfortable questions about switching off commenting on its English news service. But why pretend? There is not much to explain since Finnish rants – let it be, Immigrants – have a muzzle. You are the object of the Finnish narrative – muted and numb.
* The author of this story claimed previously that there was no moderation to comments in Yle’s Finnish-language service. This is wrong. The Finnish-language service does moderate comments on its Facebook wall.