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Moderation Tips to Avoid a Toxic Community

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Many Facebook Group administrators are experiencing growth. Without proper moderation, a community can easily slip into becoming toxic. Here are some tips for avoiding common mistakes.

I have been moderating communities since 2003, both my own communities as an administrator  and as a moderator at WebmasterWorld.  I have quite a bit of experience with communities, including learning from my own mistakes.

These are a few insights I learned from over fifteen years as an admin and a moderator.

Treat Members with Respect

Rule #1 for moderating a community is to never humiliate a member or make them feel remorse for participating.  One of the worst things a moderator can do is to belittle a member.

The other day I saw an inexperienced moderator call a member “an ass” for questioning a moderator for posting an unsubstantiated rumor about a company.

As an impartial observer, what I saw is that the member questioned the wisdom of spreading an unsubstantiated rumor about a company without citing an authoritative source or any other documentary evidence.

The reason why calling that member an “ass” was not a good response is because it violates the first rule of moderation which is to embarrass a member.

A second reason why it’s not a good response is because a moderator should never be afraid of being questioned.  Being open to criticism makes a moderator a better community leader because it helps them grow. It also teaches them to be gracious, which helps make the moderator and the community popular.

Rather than calling the member an “ass,” the moderator could have responded by acknowledging that the member raised a fair point and learning something from the exchange.

Moderators Set the Tone

Community moderators are leaders and set the temperature of the forum. Community members will take their cue from how the moderators behave themselves and model their behavior on the mods.

If the entire moderator team is on board with the rules of behavior, whether it’s a Facebook group or a traditional forum, the rest of the community will follow along with the behaviors modeled by the moderator team.

Ideally, community admins should think of the kind of community they want to host then have their moderator team model that behavior. No amount of rules will shape the tone of the community as effectively as the moderator’s example.

Define the Tone of the Community

It’s important to define the tone of the community early on. Create a document outlining what kind of community you wish to build.

The tone of the community can then be encouraged in a Terms of Service, which outlines what members can or cannot say in exchange for the privilege of being a member of the community.

Changing the Tone of a Community is Nearly Impossible

Many forum admins make the mistake early on of taking a hands-off approach in order to grow the community.

Anyone who’s read Lord of the Flies knows what happens next: The members turn the community into a dystopian nightmare no advertiser would want to touch.

Once rudeness and casual cruelty enters the community’s DNA it is next to impossible to rein it back in. Attempting to do so generally sparks a rebellion that almost always leads to the founding of competing communities.

While those communities eventually burn out the original community is sometimes left limping along.

Moderation Means Service

Without proper training, some moderators tend to heavy handed moderating. It’s a quirk of human nature that I’ve observed many times.

I’ve always advised my moderators that they are not policing the community. They are serving the community. Their role is that of a servant, not of a police.

As a moderator it is their role to encourage community, good vibes, encourage discussion and upholding the terms of service.

Moderation with a Light Touch

Community members take offense at being moderated. Editing a member’s post or deleting it altogether should be viewed as an action of last resort.

Ideally, the terms of service and moderator behavior should be steering how members behave in a community.

Depending on the tone of your community and what you want it to be, minor infractions should be dealt with in a polite manner by private message. This way one can avoid embarrassing a member.

Communities Should be Fun

Most of all, a community should be fun. The word community is defined as a feeling of fellowship with others who share the same interests. And the word fellowship is defined as friendly association with others.

In general, the moderation policies of a community should encourage those qualities of fellowship in order to ensure a good experience for the members.

And if the goal of the community is to earn advertising revenue, then a community founded on fellowship makes it a better place for advertising, as no business wishes to advertise on a community that allows racism and other foul commentary, and Google AdSense may disable ads on pages that feature negative commentary.

To recap, respect your community members, encourage the moderators to lead by example and have a plan in place for cultivating the kind of community you wish to create.

Searchenginejournal.com

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Amazon’s advertising business grew 19%, unlike Google, Meta

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Amazon's advertising business grew 19%, unlike Google, Meta

The regulator was concerned with Amazon’s dual role as both a marketplace and a competitor to merchants selling on its platform.

Nathan Stirk | Getty Images

Amazon’s advertising business continues to grow despite a general slowdown in digital advertising, which has hurt companies like Google parent Alphabet, Facebook parent Meta and Snap.

The online retail giant’s advertising services unit brought in $11.6 billion in sales for the fourth quarter, representing a 19% year-over-year increase, according to its earnings report Thursday.

Although Amazon’s advertising unit still constitutes a small fraction of the $149.2 billion in revenue the company recorded in its fourth quarter, it represents a fast-growing area that analysts believe could be a crucial player in the digital advertising market.

Indeed, while investors were pleased that Meta is cutting costs, sales in the company’s fourth quarter dropped 4% year-over-year to $32.17 billion.

Meta executives explained on Wednesday during a call with analysts that they don’t see an immediate rebound in the digital advertising market coming anytime soon. Susan Li, the company’s chief financial officer, said “Consistent with our expectations, Q4 revenue remained under pressure from weak advertising demand, which we believe continues to be impacted by the uncertain and volatile macroeconomic landscape.”

Meanwhile, Alphabet on Thursday reported fourth quarter advertising revenues of $59.04 billion, a slowdown from $61.24 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Alphabet’s YouTube advertising unit, which faces competition from TikTok, brought in $7.96 billion in the fourth quarter, representing an 8% drop from a year ago.

Tech companies that are powered by digital advertising have been under pressure from several factors, including a tough economy, increased competition from TikTok, and the lingering effects of Apple‘s 2021 iOS privacy update.

The latest Insider Intelligence survey of digital advertising revenue share worldwide revealed that Amazon now holds 7.3% of the overall online ad market, trailing Alphabet‘s Google, and Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, which respectively have 28.8%, 11.4%, and 9.1%, of the digital ad market.

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FTC sets its sights on the health data market

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FTC sets its sights on the health data market

With Carmen Paun

AN FTC FIRST — The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on companies sharing health data in new ways that could have implications for online business models, POLITICO’s Ruth Reader reports.

The FTC said Wednesday it had reached an agreement with GoodRx on a fine and remedies after the prescription discount site and telehealth provider shared customers’ health data with Google, Facebook and other third parties.

It’s the commission’s first enforcement of its 2009 Health Breach Notification Rule. Pending a court’s agreement, the decision could upend business models that rely on selling or using the data.

In the agreement with GoodRx, the agency filed a proposed order to levy a $1.5 million fine and enforce the remedies with the federal court in the northern district of California, which still must approve the agreement.

The FTC said GoodRx was unfair in its handling of customer data — alleging the company falsely claimed it complied with HIPAA and also shared information when it pledged not to. The company also had no internal processes to protect, or limit third-party access to, consumer health data, the commission said.

Though GoodRx has agreed to settle, it didn’t admit wrongdoing. The company also said it didn’t believe the FTC action would materially impact the business.

“We believe this is a novel application of the Health Breath Notification Rule by the FTC. We used Facebook tracking pixels to advertise in a way that we feel was compliant with regulations and that remains common practice for many websites,” the company said in a statement.

Still, the FTC is signaling heightened interest in the issue, data privacy experts say.

“What they’re doing is sending a warning shot across the digital bow of the online advertising industry saying, ‘Hey, these things are unfair, we’re watching, and you should not be using this health information in the way it’s being used,’” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for digital privacy and consumer protections online.

WELCOME TO THURSDAY PULSE. One bill to keep an eye on: a proposition to make roasted chile New Mexico’s official state aroma. What should your state’s official aroma be? Send ideas — and health news — to [email protected] and [email protected].

TODAY ON OUR PULSE CHECK PODCAST, Erin Schumaker talks with Megan Messerly about the millions of Americans who were allowed to remain covered by Medicaid during the pandemic and what could happen now that Congress has given states the go-ahead to reevaluate who’s still eligible for those health insurance benefits.

AMERICA DOESN’T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO IDENTIFY PANDEMIC ORIGINS, EXPERTS TELL CONGRESS — The United States doesn’t have the combination of scientific research, access to samples databases, domestic operational plans and international partnerships that can reliably identify the source of disease outbreaks such as the coronavirus pandemic, five experts told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Carmen reports.

Using genetic sequencing and analyzing blood samples stored in databases are technologies that have proven useful in detecting the origin of other diseases in the past, but a lack of access to such databases hinders origin investigation, Karen Howard, the acting chief scientist at the Government Accountability Office told the subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

International agreements should be developed to standardize sample databases that could help in researching a virus’ origin, she said, adding that the U.S. should also develop a detailed national strategy for investigating a pandemic’s beginning, she said.

One single office in the U.S. government should coordinate the work of several agencies in identifying where an outbreak started, added Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former adviser on the White House Covid-19 Response Team.

Why it matters: Inglesby said the ability to investigate a viral outbreak could be a form of deterrence against enemies who would want to use biological weapons against the U.S.

The hearing was the first for this Congress that focused on Covid’s origins, an issue that the Republican House majority has made a priority. Most questions from the Republican subcommittee members focused on whether it could be demonstrated that the coronavirus originated at the Wuhan virology lab.

The health experts testifying said the current data doesn’t clearly trace the virus to the Wuhan lab, but several studies link it to a live animal market in that Chinese city.

Michael Imperiale, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, warned against politicizing the debate and discouraged scientists from getting involved in such research. Some of his colleagues studying viruses with pandemic potential, he said, have received death threats from people who mistrust the researcher’s work, suspecting them of deliberately engineering viruses to become more transmissible or dangerous.

“We must be careful not to throw sand in the gear that slows our progress, dissuades our scientists or discourages our young people from being a part of our scientific system,” he told lawmakers.

WYDEN WANTS INFO ON IRA REBATES — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter Wednesday to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure asking for details about the Medicare Part D and Part B inflation rebate provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

The information requested includes a timeline for implementing rebates, an explanation of how those rebates will be calculated and a plan to promptly penalize companies that increase prices faster than the inflation rate.

ONCDP TO THE CABINET? A bipartisan group of 55 lawmakers asked President Joe Biden in a letter Wednesday to add the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to a Cabinet-level position.

The lawmakers wrote that, amid the opioid epidemic, the president should announce the change at next week’s State of the Union address and push ending the crisis as a top priority.

IN CASE OF DEFAULT — The largest House Republican caucus worked on a list of ideas for fiscal reform, including an item on Medicare, POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma and Olivia Beavers report.

Though Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier this week that Medicare and Social Security were off the table for cuts, the group is considering a way to continue payments to beneficiaries should the U.S. default on its debt.

FDA EMPLOYEES WON’T BE FIRED OVER FORMULA CRISIS — As the FDA looks to major reforms in the wake of the infant formula crisis, the agency’s commissioner said employees won’t be fired or reassigned in the changes, POLITICO’s Meredith Lee Hill reports.

The announcement came as Commissioner Robert Califf rolled out his “new, transformative vision” of the main agency tasked with overseeing food safety in the U.S., though he didn’t include specific plans to address breakdowns around infant formula.

Still, Califf pointed to some past “leadership changes.” His remarks come just days after senior FDA foods official Frank Yiannas’ resignation last week. In his resignation letter, Yiannas called for structural reforms in the troubled division.

“But the short answer is no one’s going to be reassigned or fired because of the infant formula situation,” Califf told reporters.

PANDEMIC PREP DEAL DETAILS — The World Health Organization shared plans for an international agreement aimed at improving pandemic preparations, Carmen reports.

The plan lays out ideas to avoid the failures from the Covid-19 pandemic, such as inequitable vaccine distribution.

The proposal would require countries to allow WHO rapid-response teams access to their territories to assess and support efforts to combat emerging outbreaks — after China didn’t grant fast access to international experts to the Wuhan virology lab at the pandemic’s outset.

The draft also demands that countries support temporary waivers of intellectual property rights on those products and requires manufacturers that received public funding for their development to waive their rights. That sort of provision, hotly contested through the Covid era, will likely be fought by pharmaceutical companies.

Governments will start negotiations on the agreement at a meeting later this month, with discussions continuing for the next year.

FIRST IN PULSE: Andrea Harris, previously chief of staff to Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and two HHS assistant secretaries, will join Protect Our Care as director of policy programs.

Jean Accius is now president and CEO of Creating Healthier Communities. He previously was SVP of global thought leadership for AARP.

The New York Times reports that vaccine makers kept well over $1 billion in prepayments for Covid shots for developing countries.

Kaiser Health News writes about nursing home owners funneling cash out of facilities during the pandemic.

The Washington Post reports on research about the cancer risk associated with ultra-processed food.

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GoodRx Fined For Allegedly Sharing Consumer Data With Ad Platforms 02/02/2023

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GoodRx Fined For Allegedly Sharing Consumer Data With Ad Platforms 02/02/2023

The drug discount company GoodRx has agreed to pay $1.5 million, and to refrain from sharing users’ health data for ad purposes, to settle allegations that it wrongly disclosed health information,
the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District
of …



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