Browse Definitions :
Definition

Godwin's law

Godwin's law, also known as Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies, is a statement maintaining that if any online discussion continues long enough, someone will almost certainly compare someone else to Hitler. Typically, the comment likens someone to Hitler or calls that person a Nazi, and the individual described in that way is often a participant in the discussion. The law is thought to apply to conversations about any conceivable topic.  

Mike Godwin, an American lawyer and author, formulated the law in reference to Usenet newsgroup discussions but it is now widely considered applicable to any online channel and particularly to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where large groups of loosely-connected individuals frequently engage in extended and contentious arguments about all sorts of things.  

Godwin originally developed the idea in 1990 as “a natural law of Usenet," expressed in the following statement: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1." (A probability of 1 is a certainty.) A corollary to Godwin's law states that once Hitler is mentioned, that discussion is ended. The implication is that the level of discourse has devolved to the degree that further communication is pointless. According to Usenet tradition, whoever mentioned Hitler is deemed to have lost the argument.

Godwin’s purpose in creating the law was to make people more thoughtful in online communications, as he said, “I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about the Holocaust.” The exercise was, according to Godwin, an experiment in mimetics. In his discussion of the subject, Godwin is credited as the first person to use the word meme to refer to viral online content.

PBS covered Godwin’s law in Three Laws of the Internet:

This was last updated in September 2017

Continue Reading About Godwin's law

Networking
  • firewall as a service (FWaaS)

    Firewall as a service (FWaaS), also known as a cloud firewall, is a service that provides cloud-based network traffic analysis ...

  • private 5G

    Private 5G is a wireless network technology that delivers 5G cellular connectivity for private network use cases.

  • NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure)

    NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure) encompasses all of the networking hardware and software needed to support ...

Security
  • cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • operational risk

    Operational risk is the risk of losses caused by flawed or failed processes, policies, systems or events that disrupt business ...

CIO
HRSoftware
  • OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

    OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) encourage companies to set, communicate and monitor organizational goals and results in an ...

  • cognitive diversity

    Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem-solving and can offer unique perspectives ...

  • reference checking software

    Reference checking software is programming that automates the process of contacting and questioning the references of job ...

Customer Experience
  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

  • customer profiling

    Customer profiling is the detailed and systematic process of constructing a clear portrait of a company's ideal customer by ...

Close