How to govern community groups on social media

Following ongoing concerns over cyber bullying and Internet trolling on social media, I've set out some guidelines below on how to govern online community groups.

The guidelines aim to help protect community group administrators, moderators and users from possible legal action. They also aim to help reduce the impact negative comments may have within the group. I've written them following my own personal experience at the hands of a cyber bully and Internet troll in a village community group.

If you run local community groups on social media, such as on Facebook and LinkedIn, please feel free to use these guidelines to help protect your interests. I'd just ask that you add a link to this original article.

I've written the generic version below for Facebook community groups. But, you can alter the text to accommodate groups on other social media platforms too. Do remember that all users agree to the terms and conditions of the social media platform when they join. The social media platform will no doubt have its own rules on how it expects members to behave when posting, commenting or using chat in community groups. Rules of engagement are, however, standard across all social media.

As a group administrator or moderator it is important to take your role seriously. Keep an open mind, be fair, but stay in control of the group's governance. If there is a conflict of interest on a particular issue, you must (1) declare it so, and (2) step back from any decision-making. Where you do take action, communicate it to your community's users. They need to have trust and confidence in your ability to run the group in the best interests of everyone.

Governance Of Online Community Groups

ENJOYING YOUR MEMBERSHIP OF FACEBOOK COMMUNITY GROUPS

We have set out some basic rules to make sure that you enjoy your membership of our Facebook community group. We are actively committed to using the Facebook Community Standards. This enables us to (1) keep up the group's integrity; (2) make sure that we all treat each other with fairness and respect; (3) enhance a positive experience for discussion and debate (4) promote digital inclusion.

These standards apply to all users in this community group, including administrators and moderators.

Anyone can join this group. We do not discriminate. When you become a member, you have the right to give your opinions freely. But, you must treat others with respect. You cannot be abusive and rude just because someone disagrees with you. They have a right to disagree with you, just as you have the right to disagree with the opinions of others.

We follow a policy of closing comments once a post has naturally run its course. An administrator takes this decision, and will marked the post thus.

We never remove a post, comment or chat history unless it breaks the law, is abusive or rude towards others. To ensure transparency, we will always tell you and group members if we do so. We will tell you why we have taken this action, and give you right of reply.

We will kick and ban anyone who breaks the law, is abusive or rude towards others. Administrators will agree collectively by majority vote to take this action. They will explain this decision to you and give you right of reply. We will also tell Facebook immediately if we feel a user has broken the law, bullied or trolled another user.

Everyone has the right to privacy and to set their own access and viewing permissions as they see fit. We will never publish any private correspondence without your explicit consent. But, we will always keep copies of any correspondence to protect our integrity and show good governance within the group. Where necessary, we will ask you to correct or remove any information which we believe wrong, misleading or inappropriate.

We will deal with any complaints sensitively and in confidence. Administrators' decisions are final. We urge you to contact Facebook directly should you disagree with any decisions. It is your absolute right to do so. We are always happy to take advice and/or direction from Facebook, when required.

For further information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

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