New social media rules explained

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jun 05, 2013

Love it or hate it — there’s no escaping social media for businesses that want to be successful.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have presented huge opportunities for newspapers. We are able to reach a much broader audience and are able to have quicker two-way communication with our community.

As assistant editor, I’m in charge of all of our social media outlets. This is a time-consuming venture, but I enjoy getting almost instantaneous feedback on posts and getting story ideas.

Our Facebook page is intended to inform the community of local news and to create a dialogue with our readers. We want to hear your feedback on stories, we want you to ask questions and make comments and interact with each other. However, there is an appropriate and respectful way of doing so.

For the most part, our Facebook followers are great. They appreciate our coverage, respond to questions we ask, participate in our photo contests and respect differences of opinion.

But there are others who use our Facebook page in an inappropriate or unproductive manner. They call others names because they don’t agree with their post, accuse the paper of numerous fallacies, use vulgar language in their comments and cause unnecessary altercations.

As a journalist, I’m a big supporter of the First Amendment — my job would be impossible without freedom of the press and freedom of speech especially. I don’t like to be censored and I don’t like to censor others. But I’ve been forced into that position lately on Facebook by deleting certain comments.

As we have grown to almost 7,000 likes on Facebook, it has become more of a demanding job to monitor our page for content. We tend to determine what is appropriate and inappropriate on a case by case basic and reach a consensus in the newsroom whether to delete someone’s comment.

A few recent issues have made us rethink our strategy for dealing with these problems. Court cases and rulings are a big draw on our Facebook. Understandably certain cases carry heavy emotions, but we can’t allow people to defame a defendant or plaintiff in a case.

We should remember that people should have the right to a fair trial and are innocent until proven guilty. Wouldn’t you want your family member to be afforded the same rights if they found themselves in a similar position? I suppose it’s easier to say hateful things to others while being sheltered behind a computer screen.

Our recent Memorial Day photo contest also stirred up some problems that will result in a new contest rule — all entrants must have a Haywood County tie.

With these incidents in mind, we thought it would be best to establish a set of guidelines to encourage our followers to be more polite to one another.

Here are the rules:

The Mountaineer administrators reserve the right to remove any comment or photo on our page if deemed vulgar, liable or disrespectful. We also reserve the right to limit or block a user’s access if a user continually abuses our page. A comment may be removed for the following reasons:


-           Abusive, defamatory, hateful, containing racially or ethnically offensive or derogatory content, obscene or sexually explicit language

-       Fraudulent, deceptive or misleading comments.

-       Copyright violations

-       Threats on a person/organization/company

-       Spam or unsolicited advertisements

-       Posts that is not relevant to the conversation or topic.

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