How to handle controversial subjects on a Facebook page

Ever since I became aware of the fact that HeathCare.gov has a Facebook page a few months ago, I became a fan for two reasons.

  1. I want to better understand how the changes will help me and my friends.
  2. I wanted to see how they would handle the inevitable negative commenters.

They really have succeeded. At least, I think they have. They don’t delete the negative comments. People can disagree. They let the comment debates happen…to an extent. And somehow, the comments have stayed under control.

Turns out they have a social media policy that helps to govern the page. The comment policy is short and sweet.

  • Stay focused
  • Be respectful
  • Tell the truth
  • No spam

My personal favorite is “Tell the truth.” It’s so easy for misinformation to spread, especially with something so controversial such as the new health care laws. That’s why it’s so important to nip lies in the bud before it grows like kudzu in the Southeast.

This policy could probably apply to pretty nearly any other Facebook page. Even a library page. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever post anything controversial while running a library page, there will be someone, somewhere, who will take offense at something you post. Even something about seeking donations of books or money for the library will spark some ire. (“Why aren’t you cataloging the books I wrote and self published? Why is it going directly into the booksale? I gave you guys 80 copies!!!”)

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