Facebook reminds Australia: Moderate your Pages


Facebook appears to have directly contacted Australian administrators of Facebook Pages to remind them of tools available to moderate objectionable content within their sub-sections of the giant social networking site.

The company has recently come under increasing pressure from a number of parties in Australia to clean up its act. For example, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh wrote to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in late February, appealing for help in blocking offensive material from being posted on memorial sites for Queensland girl Trinity Bates.

Shortly after, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would investigate an idea being promoted by Sunrise and independent senator Nick Xenophon to setup an online ombudsman to deal with such complaints. He said it was obvious which material went too far, and rejected any criticism that it was draconian to address offensive online material.

In a letter emailed to at least two administrators of a Facebook Page this week (one seen by Delimiter and one other), Facebook said it was aware that Australians had used the site to rally around the tragic events surrounding the deaths of Elliot Fletcher and Trinity Bates.

“Unfortunately, a few individuals demonstrated a complete lack of respect towards the families and friends of Trinity and Elliot and added inappropriate content to these pages,” it said.

“In light of these events, we wanted to remind you of the different options available to Page administrators to help you moderate the content on your Page.”

Controls that Facebook Page administrators have access to include the ability to limit the types of content people can post on Facebook walls (such as blocking videos and photos), removing individual pieces of content, or banning people that are abusive.

“You can also always report people on the site by using the ‘Report’ buttons located on most pieces of content, but please remember that you have the ability to administer your Page as well,” the note, from “The Facebook Team” said.

Delimiter has contacted Facebook’s Australian public relations agency by email to ask for a comment and to verify the email is genuine.

Image credit: Facebook


  1. While this type of notification is good, I’m still amazed at the level of criticism facebook received – as if they were personally responsible for the trolling of Elliot Fletcher and Trinity Bates.

    Yes both pages being trolled was not nice thing, I can’t help but feel as if the page admins should have known about these features.

    Anyone who creates a place for online conversation should be aware that trolls often rear their ugly heads, and should be aware of ways to moderate and prevent too much ugliness.

    Not that I’m trying to defend the trolls in *any* way, just frustrated with the media (sunrise) and politicians (Bligh/KRudd) choice of who to blame (facebook).

    • I’m also amazed, Owen. We need to get away from the idea that a provider hosting a piece of content posted by someone else is responsible for that content. The page admins should have been targeted, not Facebook as a corporation.

      There are mechanisms that are evolving for practically dealing with objectionable content online, and they work. Just because politicians are not aware of those mechanisms doesn’t mean they need to be “fixed”. I am particularly disappointed by Sunrise’s campaign in this area.

      • I think the sentiment has something to do with Senator Conroys approach to internet censorship: the internet is not a special medium, it is just like books and tv.

        To most of us, it obviously isn’t. However taking the Conroys approach I can understand how one would go after the corporation. If you don’t like a book, you goto the distributer to stop publication, the same with a tv show, you goto the network.

        And therein lies my biggest fear with the filter and the NBN, Conroy fundamentally misunderstands the internet and its capabilities.

        • I agree Conroy’s level of understanding is a concern. He does seem to have a surface level awareness of the issues, but not the deep insight you really need in a ministerial position touching so strongly on technology. Lundy, anyone? ;)

  2. It’s Facebook who owns the site, it is Facebook who is responsible.

    You can’t palm off site management to users.

    Google recently learnt this in Italy.

    • Actually, under the ‘Safe Harbour’ regulations, isn’t it the users who are ultimately responsible? And how do you expect Facebook to realistically admin every single thing that hundreds of millions of its users post?

    • I believe the RTA are responsible for the roads… are they also responsible for every single car accident and not the person driving the car?

  3. while it is fair to validate the technology and what it can achieve, we must not forget it is the imperfect human who uses the technology. as a civilisation we must recognise the weak and vulnerable should always be protected. internet social networking removes us from certain real experiences and we are too easily detached. it is too easy to push a button and not be responsible for its consequences. companies must act ethically at all times and should implore this to its customers. only time will tell if this type of detached social networking is actually good for us.

    • hi Jane, I think the most important thing to recognise here is that there is really no way to control this type of detached social networking when it is in the hands of giant centralised corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple and so on. When the information and processes are in the hands of dispersed smaller groups, using common open standards, it is much easier to achieve equitable human outcomes, IMHO.

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