Social Media & Forum Conflict Management
Sometimes, but very rarely, people feel like holding up their “freedom of speech” argument to have a fight of galactic measures. If you are unlucky, they decide to have this fight on your website. When that happens, you, the website owner or Facebook site operator will be dealing with the virtual pickets being held up. This can have tremendous consequences for your business and a positive attitude in how to deal with it will be crucial for your businesses continued online existence. A nice example for this kind of human behavior can be seen when something bad happens, such as the CT School Shooting in CT, a few days ago, and the nations largest and oldest civil rights organization had to shut their Facebook page down. Imagine the fear and anger spilling over and people getting so bent out of shape that they select your personal domain for their idiotic arguments?!
What is “Freedom Of Speech”?
“freedom of speech [noun]: the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.”
Pretty clear, isn’t it? The government cannot infringe on your right to express your opinion unless you violate the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.Does is say, Joe Blow cannot infringe on your right to do so in his living room? Does it say you can simply walk (virtually) onto someone else s property and start yelling your opinion? What if the property owner asks you to leave and take it elsewhere? Do you have to leave? It is your constitutional right to be you and to communicate your opinion, but where? The answer is pretty straight again: In Public. What about badmouthing or disparaging someones character or business on someone else website? Nope. No can do.
The Argument Remains
People who post on a forum or publicly kept website or social media page are not on “public domain”, in other words, they are perfectly fine to hold up their picket sign on the town halls parking lot, but are at the mercy of the property owner if they wish to do it in someones backyard or on someones personal property. Most people, especially aviation people understand that. The property owner has every right to restrict your freedom by censoring or removing material which could cause the entity hosting it any harm. Doing so is not an infringement upon the freedom of speech rights. Moreover, the author of inflammatory material looses all editorial rights by submitting such material to any software or storage device not under full ownership and control by the author. There is no implied responsibility for a website owner to allow any and all behavior to occur. This stems from the fact that website owners can be held liable for content depicted on their website.
What can you do when two or more boneheads have it out on your website?
That’s subject to individual and personal evaluation. For the website/ page owner it’s a simple risk assessment in terms of potential risk. You can either allow the discussion/ argument and monitor it closely, or you can edit, remove or delete it. In extreme cases, such as the outrageously heated debates over gun rights or impending gun laws, or when posts display the behavior of rebels on the loose (national security), you might be better off taking the content off the line and/ or restricting people’s ability to use your site as a tool in displaying their personal opinion. Some call it “Political Correctness” some call it protecting your personal/ business domain from being used as a battlefield.
Whatever you decide to do is your prerogative. Doing nothing will bite you in the ass!