Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

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TomPittman7
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Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#1

Post by TomPittman7 »

We've been running a ward Facebook group for years as per guidelines once outlined on internet.churchofjesuschrist.org. The guidance at that subdomain has changed and is less detailed than before — which in some ways is a shame.

We have some members who post highly partisan political comments in the ward FB group. Often members more than infer that the Church tacitly endorses their preferred political group.

We have had people LEAVE the group because of them — which we definitely do not want.

The Facebook group is a great way to keep everyone in the loop, find babysitters, give away furniture, etc., so we want to keep people from leaving.

Also, neighbors who are not of our faith participate in the group, and some are not fans of politicized posts.

It would be helpful if there was an official policy somewhere that moderators could quote or refer members to when political posts appear so that removing such posts doesn't stir up problems in the ward.

Does anyone know of something that would help us?
russellhltn
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Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#2

Post by russellhltn »

I'd start by looking at General Handbook 38.8.29

Looking over the guidance for social media, I'm not seeing anything terribly useful in this situation. I'd suggest having a policy that any posts involving politics be removed. That could be tricky as some statements that are not political could spawn a political discussion. You might be better off focusing on eliminating posts that do not correspond with the purpose of the page.
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swigginton
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Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#3

Post by swigginton »

TomPittman7 wrote: Tue Mar 08, 2022 3:36 pm We have some members who post highly partisan political comments in the ward FB group. Often members more than infer that the Church tacitly endorses their preferred political group.
:
Does anyone know of something that would help us?
Here are the rules we use for our ward FB groups. They are posted in the group and members must agree when joining:
  1. Keep it uplifting
    Coordinate the work of the Church. Strengthen faith. Minister to the needs of others.
  2. Prohibited Activity
    Displaying other’s personal information, images or videos without their permission. Items for sale. Business interests. Political or opinion posts.
  3. Be Kind and Courteous
    Treat everyone with respect.
  4. Ask yourself before posting...
    Does the content reflect dignity and reverence for the Church? Is it accurate and credible? Do I have consent to publish images or videos? What would the First Presidency think of this site or post?
It's then easy for the admins to remove a post and indicate which rule was violated. For repeat offenders, we put them on a 30-day "time out" where the admin must approve each of their posts. It seems to work well for us.
scgallafent
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Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#4

Post by scgallafent »

President Oaks' recent general conference address might also be useful in this situation.
TomPittman7
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Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#5

Post by TomPittman7 »

Thank you guys for your help, but pointing to group rules often ENCOURAGES more argument, rather than stops it.

By that I mean that the argument changes from why we removed their posts, to why do we have a rule that (in their view) violates the First Amendment and the Church's position on the Constitution being inspired?

You see the problem?

Never mind that they agreed to Facebook's terms of use — and our group rules — before joining, so we're only asking them to keep their word.

What would be helpful for us is if the handbook or the church's internet.churchofjesuschrist.org page explicitly discouraged political comments — that way we could point to that authority and not argue about our own.

At any rate, here are the group's rules:

1. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Please keep our neighborhood group a welcoming and supportive environment for all, including refraining from criticism, mean humor, POLITICS, and controversial or inappropriate content. [EMPHASIS added.]

2. No promotions, politics, or spam.

Please do not post any content that promotes businesses, products, services, political candidates and views, etc. The group is meant to be a community of neighbors, not a prospect pool for your products or causes.

3. When you move out of the ward...

Because this group is for sharing news and announcements pertaining to [our] neighborhood, please be aware that your membership to this group will be removed soon after you move.

Again, thank you guys for your help. I really appreciate what you are doing to help us.
russellhltn
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Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#6

Post by russellhltn »

TomPittman7 wrote: Wed Mar 09, 2022 10:55 am By that I mean that the argument changes from why we removed their posts, to why do we have a rule that (in their view) violates the First Amendment and the Church's position on the Constitution being inspired?
I don't suppose it would be productive to point out that the U.S. First Amendment only applies to government censorship. Churches of all types can and do "censor" people within their buildings. The group is no different. They'll quickly find that out if they try that some fast Sunday.

What tools do you have to work with short of booting them out of the group? Is they be set to moderation?

One of the big helps we have running this forum is that new members are automatically moderated. We parodically get way off-topic posts. Those are never seen by anyone but the moderators. We quietly soft-delete them and send a PM.

Are they members? If so, I'd talk to the bishop about them. If not, I'd revoke their ability to post without moderation if not boot them out of the group altogether.
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.
BrianEdwards
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:42 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Moderating political posts in ward-oriented social media groups

#7

Post by BrianEdwards »

A trend I've seen in Church policy is towards being more "principle-based", and less "prescriptive". From the General Handbook down through other policies, I'm seeing less "for-example" type of instructions. The social media guidance may fall into that category. Which is nice because of the flexibility it allows which can be needed, but also challenging when you'd like to be able to reference something more specific that comes from above and not from a local leader. And since your situation seems to require real-time interaction ("Help, I unexpectedly need a babysitter/ride to the airport/plumbing repair tonight"), moderating everything might slow things down too much. I'd echo the suggestions of having a clearly stated purpose for the group page, empowering the site admin to handle repeat offenders, and involving the Bishop if there's continuing friction.
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