Creating Community Guidelines for Union Social Media Groups
Does your Local have a Facebook page? Perhaps a small group of workers have created a closed group where they hope they can chat more freely in a private setting?
It is very important that the group or page administrators create and enforce community conduct guidelines for everyone’s protection. Nothing on Facebook (or anywhere online) is truly private or safe from sharing, no matter how tightly you try to regulate the participants or the posts of its members.
How can something posted in a private, closed group make its way outside the group? Screenshots are the most common, but even photos with closed sharing restrictions can be downloaded or saved, and shared as easily as any other picture. Online activity may be grounds for dismissal so guidelines and their consistent enforcement are critical.
Here are some considerations when creating your guidelines:
- Define the purpose of the page or group clearly in a post pinned to the top of the feed.
- Make sure everyone knows who the page administrators are: provide easy contact info and be quick to respond to private messages flagging risky content. Ask members of the group or page to look out for each other online; if someone sees a questionable post, privately communicating with the poster (if possible) quickly can help minimize risk.
- Make sure all group/page members know what to expect. If you intend to remove posts, make sure you’re clear in the guidelines about what would trigger the deletion of problem content.
What is problem content?
- Profanity, offensive or violent language, defamatory comments about individuals or the employer.
- Trolling; intentionally disrupting or hijacking conversations with abusive talk or off-topic comments.
- Threats, threatening language, harassing or attacking comments directed at individuals or groups (again, including the employer or manager).
- Discriminatory statements relating to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political beliefs, ability etc.
- Sexually explicit material or links to sexually explicit material, sexual comments or innuendo.
- Discussion of illegal activity.
- Spam etc.
- Discussion of confidential information relating to a client, patient, co-worker, student etc.
- Disclosure of business information you should reasonably expect to be confidential or proprietary relating to your employer or place of employment.
Consider who will take over management of the group or page if the original administrators leave, move away etc. An unmonitored page is both a wasted opportunity to communicate and a risk. No matter what guidelines are in place, some people will not play nicely. Be prepared to take action in case of inappropriate activity on the page or within the group. It’s a matter of protection for all who participate in the online community.
Community Guideline Examples:
YEU Shop Steward’s Network is a closed Facebook group for our elected Stewards. Here are the guidelines we have posted for that group:
COMMUNITY GUIDELINES; PLEASE READ
This group allows YEU/PSAC Shop Stewards an opportunity to access information specific to the Steward role. This is a good place to share ideas and thoughts with your fellow Stewards to strengthen and support the work.
NOTE: This is not the place to post specific details of ANY grievance or member conversation, confidential information etc. Please make sure you maintain your Oath of Confidentiality in all communications, online and in person.
2 Questions to ask yourself before you post:
- Does it build Solidarity?
- Is it respectful?
If the answer to either question is ‘No’, please think of another way to phrase your post that supports the above 2 questions.
Posts may be removed if they are contrary to the spirit of these guidelines.
Members may be removed from the group if they consistently post in such a way.