Facebook published new recommendations for group admins yesterday evening in an attempt to help them facilitate conversations about race and inequality. Groups, which are essential to Facebook’s business strategy, have struggled to moderate discussions about the Black Lives Matter movement and injustice in the US, with many admins and moderators deleting posts they consider “political.” The deletion decisions prompted members to leave groups they’d been in for years, argue with each other, form splinter groups, and sometimes temporarily shut the groups down entirely.
Facebook directly addresses the political post ban that many groups follow and recommends that leaders create specific lists of topics that aren’t allowed. It cites “discussions on legislation, political candidates, or specific campaigns” as examples. Facebook has previously recommended that groups create a list of rules to help moderate conversation, but these rules appear to be what’s tripping moderators up now. A group dedicated to the musician Hozier, for example, allowed Hozier’s own political statements to stay live, but moderators deleted members’ thoughts, as The Verge documented in a separate story yesterday.
Facebook also recommends in its post that admins educate themselves on the issues; “create opportunities for new and diverse members” to join the moderation team; acknowledge current events with a post that outlines rules; listen to members; be “open to change” around what posts are allowed; and potentially approve all posts before they go live.
“We know these conversations are hard and reflect ongoing disparities in our society,” Facebook writes. “They are also necessary, and we hope that we can continue to help you facilitate ongoing discussions and learning.”