Dealing with trolls on social media: Why we aren’t deleting them

By Laura Haight

Politics has taken all of the fun out of social media. It’s hard to find the cute puppies, toddler birthday parties, and family reunions out there amongst all the memes and misinformation. And, yes, even factual news.

The GCDP believes that part of our job is educating and engaging our constituents on relevant news and analysis at the local, state and national level as well as county activities, elections, and programming.

A large component of our communications is social media  – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In today’s superheated political environment and because we are a political party, this has presented a new challenge: Handling negative comments that can range from opposing views to fake news to denigrating, nasty posts that have little to do with the issue on the table.

We have received a lot of notes from readers who wonder why we don’t delete some of the negativity. Here’s how we deal with this.

We monitor our social media accounts daily. We want to see what topics people are most interested in and the direction the comment-based conversation takes. This is significantly higher on Facebook than on Twitter or Instagram. So I’m going to focus there.

Although comments can often be angry, vitriolic, and uncomfortable, we are inclined to allow people to have their say. We are the Democratic Party and, as such, we stand for free speech, even – especially – when it is disagreeable and angering. 

Even though this is our default position, there are three exceptions.

  1. When we see strongly negative comments or comments that support President Trump, other Republicans, or the Republican agenda without really addressing the topic in the thread, we look up the user. We have banned and reported several accounts that we believed were cut outs or fake accounts. There are a lot of those out there, so we have to be especially diligent to try to keep them out of our conversations. Legitimate users who post comments supportive of an individual or a position with which we disagree still deserve to be heard. We will not remove those posts.
  2. When users – even those we know to be legitimate – flood comments with a single-minded political message, we can ban or block. We have banned at least one user for doing this after contacting them repeatedly and asking them to stop, and also speaking to one of their connections and asking them to get the point across. When those efforts failed, we blocked the user.
  3. We think we all would benefit from a somewhat thicker skin to be effective in this environment, so we’re not likely to delete comments or ban users who use salty language occasionally. But there are boundaries. We won’t be a delivery mechanism for slander or libel. We won’t allow violent language of hate against any individual or group or organization under any circumstances. We won’t allow comments that use sexually explicit language. 

Much of this is a judgment call. And what offends you might not meet our threshold. When we do act, you will notice only two dots (similar to an ellipse) that indicates a comment was removed.

If we’re true to ourselves and our Party, you will not see many of them. 
We encourage you to let us know if you see comments you think are offensive or posted by fake accounts. Contact us via messenger or email to gcdpcomms@greenvilledemocrats.com.


Be the change you want to see: Help the party with a much-needed donation or volunteer to help!

Leave a Reply