At the weekly ritual of Prime Minister’s Question Time, where Britain’s head of government is held to account, PM David Cameron condemned comments and pages on Facebook from users supporting murderer Raoul Moat. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:
“It is absolutely clear that Raoul Moat was a callous murderer, full stop, end of story. I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man. There should be sympathy for his victims and the havoc he wreaked in that community. There should be no sympathy for him.”
More interestingly, the British government also subsequently contacted Facebook and asked for the content to be removed. Facebook has declined to remove the comments. That’s right. A Prime Minister isn’t a community manager. Here’s why:
– A community manager doesn’t enforce a view. Disagreement is allowed in every online forum. Actually, it’s encouraged. More than that, dissent and plurality is the point. All comers are welcome. A community manager should encourage diverse views, not damn them. Unsavoury opinions are cool. There’s something wrong when a community manager censors an opinion simply because he or she disagrees.
– A community manager doesn’t silence conversations. We marshal them. We sometimes moderate them but we always enable debate. But it’s usually the style and the words that we deal with, rather than the content. Threats of violence are right out. Swear words, in most communities, aren’t permissible. Freedom of speech is, generally, golden. Silence isn’t.
– A community manager isn’t a CEO. A Prime Minister is. He or she has more important things to do than meddle with the online discussions. A CEO should leave the moderation of an online community to people who are experienced. It’s hard for a CEO to see that sometimes, but they do need to learn.
– A community manager is accountable but not elected. They should seek approval by being good at what they do and not for currying favour by what they say.