The concept of monitoring and moderating the messages made on Facebook walls is odd. The practice didn’t even exist three or four years ago.
But recent legal tussles show Facebook moderation isn’t just something you should do because it’s good business. It’s a legal obligation.
Smart businesses will be aware of a finding by the Advertising Standards Board, and a subsequent affirmation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, that small businesses have an obligation to take down misleading or deceptive posts on their wall. These messages can constitute ads, and if you don’t take care of them, it could result in massive fines.
Businesses have been irate about this, suggesting it’s even more work for them to keep track of.
But James Griffin, co-founder of reputation management company SR7, says this should have been the case for many businesses when they first set up their pages – and it exposes some laziness.
“I’ve got some very strong opinions about this issue,” he says.
“We founded our business on the idea that social media marketing is great, but there are risks and other implications involved. For a few years, people have said they don’t want to think about the risks.”
“Now the ACCC has shone a light on the fact organisations may have just been paying lip service to their fans on social media.”
Now the decision has been made, it’s time for businesses to take some initiative – you need to start moderating your Facebook wall more thoroughly, and more often.
What’s the first thing I should do?
Before a business even thinks about moderating the comments on their Facebook page, they should take a step back and think about what actually can be posted there.
Many may not consider this, but they are allowed to put up rules and regulations about what can or cannot be posted. It’s your page – you can moderate it however you’d like.
This is why the director of CP Communications, Catriona Pollard, says SMEs should come up with some clear guidelines about what can be put on the page.
“It’s one of the most important things you can do, and that’s true whether it’s on Facebook, on LinkedIn, or wherever. If you have a group, then you need rules advising how to behave.”
“We’ve done that across all our clients, basically saying if a post has profanity, or whatever, they have the right to delete it.”
Of course, Pollard says this is different from just deleting things the business doesn’t like. It’s about setting up a standard by which all posts can be judged – this way you have a justification for getting rid of these types of comments.
This can get rid of a lot of problems straight away. For instance, if people are rude to each other, or use excessive profanity, or are simply spruiking their own products – you can get rid of them all if you anticipate those in a set of rules.
Putting a warning against misleading and deceptive statements is a good first step, but it’s the beginning. The next thing you’ll need to do is actually moderate these comments.