Moderating social media instruction

Instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction outlines key best-practice principles and considerations for moderation of user-generated content on RMIT’s social media channels. It is designed to provide a positive user experience while building safe and fair communities where members can contribute and be respected. The instruction also ensures that RMIT representatives fully understand their rights and responsibilities regarding the University’s reputation and confidential information.

Exclusions

Nil.

Instruction steps and actions

Instruction (including key points)

Responsibility

Timeline

1. Before moderation

1.1 Consult the Moderating Social Media Procedure for an overview of principle obligations when moderating user-generated content at RMIT. In particular, staff must:

  • Monitor social media regularly during the working week (daily on corporate accounts) to identify any moderation issues early enough to minimise risk or damage and to ensure an engaging, interesting presence for visitors;
  • Respond professionally and courteously to negative comments as soon as possible and delete abusive comments in a timely fashion;
  • Follow the Communication with Current Onshore Students Policy when interacting with students.

1.2 Write a disclaimer for your forum or community that sets out the terms and conditions for users wanting to participate in discussion. This should contain a clear set of objectives and community-specific guidelines that users can refer to, which might include:

  • No swearing;
  • No posts that are off-topic;
  • Guidance on ideal word counts

Consider your approach to these as ‘house rules’ that can be referred to (and enforced) as best practice in times of dispute.


Spokesperson


Ongoing

2. Moderation

Controversial material

2.1 Do not accept content that:

  • Would reasonably be regarded as pornographic;
  • Contains racial, age, gender, disability, sexual vilification, cruelty or violence (see the Equal Opportunity Act: http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/your+rights/equal+opportunity);
  • Is defamatory;
  • Is abusive, or harassing in nature;
  • Infringes copyright.

2.2 If a member posts offensive or inappropriate material or confronts you publicly about a moderation decision:

  • Point to your community’s disclaimer to justify your decision;
  • Replace the inappropriate material with a brief warning message;
  • Follow up with a reminder post about the disclaimer and terms and conditions;
  • Describe appropriate behaviour and lead by example. Include a simple, courteous reply, such as ‘Thanks for your co-operation in this matter’ or ‘Thanks for understanding’.

2.3 Keep a professional distance when moderating controversial users, material and disputes. Avoid arguing about or discussing in public RMIT’s moderation policy or practices.

When to moderate

2.4 Allow negative comments rather than deleting them. Deleting comments may prompt users to form separate and unregulated social media outlets specifically for negative comments, allowing a situation to become even more inflamed. Instead, if a conversation about the University is taking a negative turn, influence its outcome with positive intervention, aiming for a respectful outcome.

2.5 Correct false information with facts and evidence. Do not speculate or guess. Think of this as an opportunity to educate and empower the user.

2.6 As much as possible, cede control to the community of users rather than trying to control every aspect of their activities. In many instances, especially if strong ground rules have been established and referred to, the community will effectively moderate itself once users are sure of expectations and administrative framework.

2.7 Allow organic conversation to flourish among users and, in general, refrain from inserting your personal opinions.

2.8 Draft a crisis plan for when disputes escalate. In the case of a University crisis or emergency, RMIT’s Communications team will post on all RMIT social media in keeping with the Emergency Procedures Manual. See the Moderating User-Generated Content on Official Social Media Channels Procedure for further information.

2.9 If a situation arises that you are not sure how to handle, consult the Senior Social Media Analyst.


Spokesperson


Ongoing

[Next: Supporting documents and information]