Critiquing on social media? Yes, but with moderation
Behind every Facebook page, website, or comment section is a moderation service. Many are unaware of this and have never had the opportunity to realize it, but these moderators, both human and algorithmic, are essential to any online exchange.
Some may see it as a form of censorship carried out by platforms. This is probably the stereotype that hits this profession the hardest, even though it fundamentally serves dialogue. Censorship is defined by the deliberate deletion of content expressing a certain opinion deemed “to be banned.” An idea that contrasts sharply with the objectives defined by the moderation charter.
The latter, which is different for each platform, characterizes the different types of messages to be rejected and the way to proceed (deletion or dereferencing, a priori or a posteriori). To some extent, it gives time and precision constraints, that is, an acceptable number of errors that usually tend towards zero.
| Moderating to better discuss
The criteria for deletion are therefore variable but fundamentally quite similar. Illegal, violent, insulting, or sexual content is systematically rejected. This is a personal decision that is justified by the image that a company wishes to convey, but which also makes it possible to purify and therefore encourage a dialogue between customers and the brand.
If an individual wants to ask a question to a customer service but the comment section is saturated with insults or racist comments, there is a good chance that they will self-censor and refuse to communicate through this channel, especially if they share a minority opinion and are insulted for it.
Moderation also makes it possible to frame and legitimize a debate. A subscriber is invited, even encouraged, to criticize an article as long as they respect the rules and move the debate forward. But it is normal and legitimate for an actor to refuse a comment if it is rude or insulting.
To quote Davy Chambon, Operations Manager at Netino by Webhelp: “When you are invited to someone’s house, you don’t put your feet on the table and say the food is disgusting and the decor is ugly! You moderate yourself.” However, everyone is free to say that the dish is not to their taste, as long as respect is maintained. Around the “table” of social spaces, the observation is the same!
Managing comments is also a legal obligation, as a brand is obliged to prove that it moderates its social space. Otherwise, it may be exposed to legal sanctions, as evidenced by the case of L’Equipe 21.
A football player insulted for his skin color by a subscriber of the sports newspaper filed a complaint against the media. The editor-in-chief had to defend himself in court, even though he was in no way responsible for this publication. However, the player should not have his name denigrated in this way, and it is normal for him to respond.
| Moderate, but not only!
It should be noted that the role of the moderation service has emancipated over the years from its primary attributes. Depending on the companies and contracts, the subcontractor now handles responding to customer requests at different levels: from the message predefined by the company to the personalized one. Community management is also increasingly in demand.
Social networks represent an unquestionable advertising force for any brand today. Not being present on these platforms is turning its back on many consumers. However, it often happens, and it is normal, that the consumer left without a response on other channels complains about it publicly on social media.
Moderators, closely linked to customer service, will allow for the quick processing of these requests. Being constantly vigilant, they will prevent tensions from escalating by managing the situation from the start with appropriate assistance. Moderating is not just about cleaning up a commenting space and the debates that take place there, it is also about being the eyes and ears of a company, preventing the risk of a bad buzz.
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"Critiquing on social media? Yes, but with moderation"