I received a call at work yesterday about a post that was on our company’s internal social media platform. The initial post was negative, but the situation prompting the post resulted from a mistake that was easily corrected. The lady calling me had been asked to call and inquire about the possibility of deleting the discussion thread now that the matter was resolved. She rightly assumed that we don’t delete threads just because they are negative in nature, and she was actually confirming that practice with me so that she could go back to the ones who requested the deletion and let them know.
As we talked, I told her that we only delete posts if they violate any of the community guidelines or company policies, and this discussion did not cross those lines. In this case, therefore, it was best to add a comment to the discussion that the matter had been resolved.
Taking this approach is preferred for several reasons:
- It does no good to pretend to embrace social media, but then only allow positive comments. That isn’t honest or transparent.
- Censorship stifles good communication, effective collaboration, and the benefits that come from occasionally uncomfortable exchanges.
- Others not directly involved in the situation are encouraged by knowing that issues can be addressed and resolved openly.
While the original person posting her complaint may not have addressed the situation in the best manner possible, the end result was positive and resulted in more people being exposed to the community guidelines I follow in moderating nearly 7,000 posts per week. Given education and periodic reminders, the community rarely needs posts deleted. It is mostly self-policing in that regard. Experienced members give guidance to newbies as needed.
In our brave new world of social media, it still takes some getting used to for many who have not yet immersed themselves in proper online etiquette. Communication is still a challenge online or offline for those lacking social skills. So be patient with those who may not be as savvy or experienced as you in social media. Educate them, share your wisdom, provide gentle correction when necessary. But always remember leap year lesson #278: Don’t try to censor social media.