Fenton’s Facebook Comment Policy (Maybe) Revisited

It’s been nearly two weeks since my first post about the City of Fenton’s Facebook Page. You may remember my critique of the city’s Facebook Comment Policy. There’s been some question in my mind and in the minds of readers regarding the source of the policy. Did New Moon, the marketing firm handling the city’s social media, create the policy identifying the Page as “not a public forum?” Or was it the city?

I wasn’t surprised to receive a response to an email I sent to New Moon. In my email, I mentioned my blog posts here and on the Fenton Patch, and Letter to the Editor of the Tri-County Times. I offered a few unsolicited suggestions for Fenton’s Facebook Page, one of which was to make the Comment Policy more prominent if it was to be enforced. A representative from New Moon was quick to contact me after my initial Twitter complaint, and I was happy to get a follow-up thanking me for my suggestions. According to the email, ” the possibility of amending the policy [was] now on the table.”

Success! Right? To be honest, I’m not sure.

Fenton’s City Manager also responded to my suggestions by leaving a nice comment on my Fenton Patch post. He clarified that the city’s Facebook Comment Policy was, in fact, established by the city before a relationship was established with New Moon Media. I suspected this. It seemed strange that a marketing operation would be so responsive on one social media channel and not another.

I am optimistic that Fenton’s Facebook Comment Policy will be amended in such a way that residents will be allowed a little more expression. However, as of today, the Policy still lives in Note form, buried beneath eight other Notes. Its contents have not changed. And while I am pleased that the City Manager read and responded to my post at the Fenton Patch, this excerpt leads me to believe that things will remain as they are.

While we at the City of Fenton value freedom of expression and seek first and foremost to service our constituents, we also consider our Facebook moderation policy essential to conducting that work. For the protection of all citizens, some discussion may be moderated if it is seen to offend others or incite such offenses. (Read the comment in its entirety.)

I certainly am not advocating that offensive comments be ignored. I just hope that in the future, resident questions are not deemed offensive merely because of the potential for resulting negativity.

So now we wait. I appreciate the responsiveness thus far from both New Moon and the city. Perhaps whether the Page’s Policy is updated or not, its administrators will consider its filter a little more carefully in the future.

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