Facebook releases recommended guidelines to help users make Groups a safe and inclusive space for community members.
Facebook Groups are a place for people to not only share their interests with others but share their experiences and seek support from the community. Many people are reaching out to their communities right now, both on- and offline, to discuss racial injustice, share personal experiences and organize ways to support. Some admins may be unsure of how to manage these important discussions in their communities, especially for groups originally created around a topic unrelated to social issues.
Facebook has pulled together some initial recommendations on how to start engaging in these conversations and support community members — these are by no means comprehensive and are meant to be a starting point. Recognising that these conversations are hard, reflect ongoing disparities in our society but are also necessary, Facebook has extended support.
Tips for navigating these conversations within your community
Take the time to educate yourself and your team on issues prior to engaging with, or shutting down, conversations with members.
Show the same care for this conversation as you would for any other sensitive topic. Do some research and figure out how you want your community to approach discussions around race and social issues.
If your admin/moderator team does not include representation from the impacted communities, create opportunities for new and diverse members to join your team
Make room on your admin and moderator teams for more diverse voices – post in your group and see which members are interested in joining the team and working together to improve and grow your community. You can also reach out to diverse organizations you have relationships with or contact vocal and diverse voices in your community that can weigh in on how your community should proceed best. Make space for, and offer, diverse organizations and advocates to talk to your group or host live training, if they are willing, and be sure your content reflects a myriad of diverse people and voices.
Connect with your greater leadership team, review house rules and your moderation principles
Consider updating these areas of your community to ensure these rules support and protect all members of your community. Share specific examples of content that is and isn’t allowed. For a rule such as “no politics allowed,” for instance, create a clear list of topics that fall under this (such as discussions on legislation, political candidates or specific campaigns) so members clearly know what is off-limits in your group when discussing when sharing posts.
Acknowledge current events with a post to your community, outlining how your community will engage moving forward with a reminder of your community rules
This will clear up any confusion on how members should participate, as well as ensure that you are addressing, rather than ignoring these issues. Make it clear examples of posts you will allow in your community and offer reasoning as to why you won’t allow other topics. Ask for respectful discussion and feedback and keep an eye on comments, being sure to address as many comments geared toward the admin team as possible.
Decide whether or not you’d like to institute a post approval to review incoming posts and mitigate conflict
Post approvals can help you manage an influx of posts and allow your team to align on what posts should be published. You can also spot potential bad actors before their posts even make it into the group.
Host a discussion started on behalf of the leaders of your group
You can also decide to host a discussion on one thread that you yourself post and will moderate. Starting a discussion yourself will allow people to talk about these issues, but in a direction that adheres to your group rules and keeps discourse respectful between members. If your community responds well to this idea, you can begin to post this weekly as a place for people to come together and discuss issues important to them.
Listen to your members
If there is a topic that your members overwhelmingly would like to discuss that doesn’t adhere to your current community’s mission or rules, consider opening up a chat, a subgroup or a new group entirely. Everyone who would like to participate can opt-in and your team can create rules and moderation guidelines specific to this space. If you do decide to open up a new group, be sure your team is all aligned and you have a moderation plan in place.
Be open to change as things evolve in your group over time
Keep in mind that your group is constantly growing and changing with every new member you approve. Topics you discuss and rules can change – just be sure to post those changes outwardly so members are clear on how they can participate, why certain content is allowed or removed and how they are expected to conduct themselves during discussions.
Build a team to ensure you and your community are supported
Ensure you have a team of admins and moderators to help you and set up a schedule so you can take turns managing the community. During “off” hours, such as when most of your group is asleep at nighttime, consider temporarily turning off comments on posts that need active moderation and letting members know ahead of them, as well as when the thread will be active again. And do post your team’s moderation hours within the group so they know who to contact at any given moment.
Tools you can use to manage your community and keep members safe
Set up an announcement with information on how your community is addressing posts or conversations on topics such as racial injustice, the news, legislation and links to organizations. This is a good place to set clear conversation boundaries and encourage all your members to work together and support each other. Remember to pin your post to the top of all announcements, so all members coming in the group see it first.
Now is a time to revisit your rules or set them up if you don’t yet have them. It is easier to moderate the group if you can reference rules as you run it and you may want to re-word or create new rules to help you better manage your community moving forward.
This is a great tool that alerts you when certain words are published in posts and comments. You can set up your keywords and every admin and moderator will get a notification as soon as they are published. While many admins may use keyword alerts for profanity or other terms that may need immediate attention, this tool is great to use for any relevant topics your team wants to keep track of.
If you are currently being overwhelmed by posts coming through, we strongly recommend turning on post approval to give your team time to review posts, align on a response and ensure they can be actively moderated when published. Even turning post approval on over the weekends can help your team manage either an influx of content or ensure content follows your community rules.
Discuss ahead of time with your moderation team how you will respond to members when rules are broken. Determine if and when your community will mute, remove or ban members consistently creating conflict or breaking rules and be sure this is written clearly somewhere for members to see. This makes it easier for you as an admin to then take the actions needed at the time.
Hosting a Live Discussion
This is a perfect time to connect with your group and have them hear directly from the leaders of your community. Spoken words are sometimes much easier to understand than written ones. Consider using Facebook Live or Messenger Rooms to host regular “office hours” where people can join live and raise questions or topics for discussion.
Turning Off Comments
Sensitive discussion can require extra close moderation attention in the comments. Temporarily turning off comments for hours when there is limited group moderation can help ensure a healthy discussion. Before closing, consider leaving a comment that the thread will be reopened.