• Dan Hinmon

Use Facebook's Group Rules to Minimize Community Conflict

Nothing can challenge a community manager and threaten the harmony of an online support group more than rampant conflict. Members of Facebook support groups are overwhelmingly positive, but without careful planning there’s always the risk that things can get out of hand.

You can minimize the risks, provide safe guidelines, and set a positive tone for the community by clearly stating community rules from the beginning. Clear rules help people understand the right behavior in the community and give you a reference when you need to step in to provide some corrective guidance.

Photo by Mélody P on Unsplash

Fortunately, Facebook has developed a very helpful Group Rules feature to guide you through the process.

To create rules for your group:

  • From your News Feed, click Groups in the left menu and select your group.

  • In the left menu, click Moderate Group then select Create Rules.

  • Click Create Rule and add a title and description to your rule.

  • Click Confirm.

To adjust the order in which group rules appear, click the dragging icon and drag and drop the rules into the order you'd like. You can list up to 10 rules in this section.

Your Rules Appear in the About Section

When you’ve created your rules, they appear in your group’s About section as Group Rules from the Admins. To make sure your new members see the rules you can also pin a rules post to the top of your feed. Pinned posts are now called Announcements and are more displayed more prominently on mobile.

To edit or delete a rule for your group:

  • From your News Feed, click Groups in the left menu and select your group.

  • Click Moderate Group on the left then select Create Rules.

  • Click the icon to the right of the rule and select Edit Rule or Delete Rule.

Customize Your Rules to Avoid HIPAA Violations

You’ll want to customize the rules that Facebook recommends -- for instance, by specifically addressing privacy and protected health information -- but they’re a good start.

Here’s the way Gillette Children’s Facebook support group explains their privacy rule:

“To ensure that this group and discussion boards comply with privacy laws, and to respect the privacy of everyone involved, please limit posts, stories and discussions to your own experiences (including your experiences with your child, if applicable).”

By posting your privacy rule and consistently monitoring and managing any violations, you can safely comply with HIPAA regulations.

One nice suggestion: Use your rules to tell members what they can do, not just "don't do this." It sets a warmer, friendlier, more inviting tone from the beginning. Now you’re one step closer to developing the nurturing community that will make members keep coming back.

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