Social Media and the Delete Key: A No-no?
Last Saturday, I came across a thought provoking status update on a Facebook page for a women’s political group I like called Chicks on the Right. (For the record, I like several from across the political spectrum). Here’s how it read: “Nuked last thread. Would like fans here to enjoy some snarky humor, but not bring the conversation down into hateful lunacy. We started our site to snark on politics-but also to give conservatism a makeover & rise above stereotypes. Racial slurs & pure viciousness aren’t part of our makeover strategy. If that means we lose some of you, so be it. We’ll stick w/the folks who like civility along with their great heels!”
Uh oh. Censorship? In social media? How could they? Isn’t hitting the delete key in social media a no-no? Well, at the risk of sparking some healthy debate, (which I admit I love to do) I’m going to part company with that sentiment, at least to the degree that I’d like to qualify it.
Granted, my example is from a political page whose objectives are not going to be exactly the same, for example, as your business or personal pages. Nonetheless, any type of page may get negative comments for various reasons, so the same principles of common sense and judgment in dealing with them should apply. In the above scenario, the page’s creators felt the thread in question had deteriorated into an all out slugfest between posters, with no apparent objective except to insult, demean, and debase. Though risky, judging by many of their friend’s comments, taking a strong stand for civility was a good move. Also key in this decision was that they explained why they deleted the thread – they didn’t just do so and hope no one would notice.
Contrast this with the following scenario: On your Facebook business page, a customer weighs in with some complaints. What if more complaints follow, perhaps even with bad language and naming one or more employees thought to be rude or incompetent? Should these types of comments be deleted? Absolutely not. They hurt, they’re negative, but they must be left intact and dealt with openly and quickly. In fact, what I tell my clients is that when they respond in the open forum, they should offer to contact people individually by phone, or even better, meet with them in person if possible. This shows a commitment to solve problems presented, and hopefully takes them out of the public spotlight.
In short, comments on a Facebook page, Blog, or other online mediums that disagree with a position taken, issue complaints, or question hotbed issues for your company should not be deleted. Those should be addressed calmly by addressing specific complaints and dispelling misinformation first and foremost. On the other hand, for comments replete with profanity, racial and/or sexual slurs, personal insults, and/or threatening language that seem to serve no useful purpose otherwise, hitting the delete key just may be a good option. It’s a judgment call. My opinion is that there is nothing wrong with making the types of careful distinctions noted in managing contributions to your online mediums when necessary.
What do you think? Is deleting ever justified, or is it a no-no? Ever deleted comments? Why or why not?