IAB Australia's Best Practice for User Comment Moderation


We were pleased to be a part of writing the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia’s new guidelines on Best Practice for User Comment Moderation,¬†released today. Here’s a quick overview of the key aspects of the report, or you can read the full document now.

It’s worth noting up front that these are recommendations — IAB Australia is not a regulatory or legal body. But given that much of our social media risk management practices stem from what is considered ‘industry best practice’, I think that they paint a pretty positive and practical pathway for brands using social media involving user comments. They are certainly more practical and realistic than many of the suggestions that have been made (for example the notable ACCC decision (Smirnoff/VB) that all posts — whether made by users or the brand — should be considered advertising material and thus regulated under those guidelines).

Here we use ‘moderator’ and ‘moderation’ to really mean community management — this might be on a Facebook Page, Twitter account, forum, comment thread or anywhere else. Just because you don’t call logging in to check nobody has posted spam to your Facebook Page ‘moderation’ doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it!

In brief points (partially lifted from the summary in the document):

  1. Publish moderation guidelines / house rules / terms of use. While nobody will read them, they give you somewhere to ‘point’ when someone is unsure why a comment was (or was not) moderated.
  2. Have a resourcing plan — who looks after moderation and when? Moderate at least when you log in to post something new (which on Facebook should be about one per day…)
  3. Have a crisis management plan.
  4. If you’re posting something that you expect may be provocative or stimulate some ‘edgy’ comments, dedicate extra resources
  5. Those social media communities involving children have additional considerations — should your moderators have working with children checks?
  6. Don’t mislead your audience (duh…)
  7. User posted / user generated comment (such as posts on your Facebook Wall by others) is not advertising or brand-driven marketing communications and should not be regulated as such.
  8. An organisation isn’t responsible for tracking comments that reference them in platforms they don’t have a presence on, unless they are:
    1. Told to do so by a regulatory or enforcement authority
    2. Re-distributed by the brand (e.g. by ReTweeting, Liking the post, writing a response etc)
    3. Later used in other material for marketing purposes.

Have a read of the document — it’s probably 20-30 minutes of reading, but well worth it.

And feel free to tweet any questions to us (@DialogueAus) or IAB Australia (@IABAustralia).