The Point/Plover Metro Wire has decided to take a leap towards civility by more strongly monitoring what it allows on its social media pages.
Facebook is great for sharing—memories or pictures of your family, bragging about your favorite sports team, or, most important of all, distribution of important information during an emergency.
But unmoderated commenting turns any page into a sewer that encourages vulgarity, false information, and human cockfighting, and discourages any productive debate. Even though our social media policy has been published on our website and Facebook page since we launched in 2017, we’ve been getting a lot of complaints about the cesspool lately, so we’re modifying our policy based on reader feedback and good, old-fashioned common sense.
We want our Facebook page to be a place for honest debate and in-depth discussion—not snarky remarks about bike lanes, Trump/Biden, or vaccines. Page administrators have the option to mark a comment as “hidden,” which leaves the comments visible to the original poster and their friends but no one else. We can also ban a person, which hides their past posts and prevents their future ability to comment on our page.
After consulting with news outlets in other communities, as well as Local Independent Online Publishers—the trade organization of which we are a member—we’ve adopted the following policy:
Comments we may hide from public view
- Complaints about having to pay to read our stories. The Metro Wire is a business. Our reporting is expanded, more consistent, and more in-depth than any other news outlet in Portage Co. today. You may not like having to pay for a subscription, but we don’t have to host your comments on our page. The best solution is for you to subscribe and support the only locally-owned and operated daily news outlet left in Portage Co.
- Elected officials are not permitted to further their political agendas in the comment sections on our social media pages, nor is this the appropriate venue for doing so. Any comment made by an elected official on our social media pages may be used in a story.
- Personal attacks against a reporter, columnist, an author of an open letter, or a source used in anything we publish. If you have a contrary opinion, we encourage you to post it so long as you’re respectful, and you’re more than welcome to submit an open letter with your complaints or concerns (As long as they’re not vulgar or inappropriate, yes, we really do publish them).
- Comments from people who obviously did not read the story. These types of comments typically contain a “guess” about what’s in the story, and they serve no purpose other than spreading misinformation.
- Name-calling, or criticizing another person’s grammar. Not everyone on our page is a native English speaker, and even those of us who are, have experienced an occasional auto-correct snafu from a smartphone, so be nice.
- Plagiarism or copying and pasting someone else’s comments. Your words should be your own. Stand behind them.
- Comments containing only an emoji, .gif, or other pictures. We like readers to use their big-people words to express themselves to further a conversation. We’re big fans of words.
- Links to other websites or unsourced claims. Many websites contain suspicious or inaccurate information. We deal in facts. And since we don’t have time to review or vet every link included in comments, none are allowed.
- Lengthy, rude arguments.
- Profanity, or simulated profanity.
- Threats, calls to violence, or calls to boycott.
How to get banned
- Repeated/frequent violations of what’s been described above.
- Encouraging theft—including theft of our services and content. Our content is protected by copyright and sharing screenshots is illegal. Subscriptions are one per email, so sharing login information with non-subscribers is also not permitted.
- Calls to violence.
- Using a “sockpuppet,” hiding behind a business/organization page, or creating a fake profile.
- Using Facebook to privately harass, solicit, or otherwise communicate inappropriately with other users on our page.
- Endangering the safety of others, which includes, but is not limited to, posting personal information as a means to “out” someone or accusing someone by name or photograph of committing a crime.
- Dropping the f-bomb, and possibly some other particularly nasty words.
If you’re banned, the ban generally is permanent. We’re a small newsroom and far too busy reporting the news to search for and reinstate people with so little regard for basic community and decency standards.