Just as the internet as a whole erupted in the discussion about the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests about police brutality, so have Facebook groups.
That is if mods keep the posts up.
Some Facebook groups have fallen apart according to The Verge, as a result of infighting or post deletion by mods, or a combination of the two. Anyone who’s in a group for their seemingly-unrelated interest — dancing, being a mom, bullet journaling — can see the purview of opinions not just about Black Lives Matter and the protests, but about the discussion itself being allowed in said groups.
Facebook has been heavily criticized for how it handles racism, both on the platform and within company walls. Perhaps in an effort to course-correct, the company released the blog post Navigating Your Community Through Race and Social Issues on Friday with tips for group moderators. (Zuckerberg also released an open letter where he said black lives matter).
“Many people are reaching out to their communities right now, both on- and offline, to discuss racial injustice, share personal experiences and organize ways to support,” the post reads. “Some admins may be unsure of how to manage these important discussions in their communities, especially for groups originally created around a topic unrelated to social issues.”
Facebook’s first tip is for moderators to educate themselves on these issues, linking to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s page on Talking About Race.
Next, the post suggests adding people of color in affected communities as actual mods themselves. Facebook implores members who are already mods to make space such as by asking members of color to join the team and by reaching out to organizations about how to proceed with making their community more diverse.
Other tips include acknowledging what’s going on in the news; considering mod approval for posts to mitigate discussion; being open to change, and listening to members. There’s even a video from Deran Young, psychologist and founder and mod of Facebook group BLACK THERAPISTS ROCK, on compassion fatigue. The post concludes with a list of Facebook features that help manages community and keep members safe (i.e. turning off comments).
Facebook, like every social network right now, is inundated with news (and opinion) about the protests. The company knows that these discussions can and should happen everywhere, even in groups that on the surface have “nothing to do” with race. “We know these conversations are hard and reflect ongoing disparities in our society,” the post reads. “They are also necessary, and we hope that we can continue to help you facilitate ongoing discussions and learning.”