Comments that include a threat, insult or another attack against a journalist need to be analysed closely by moderators, who will have to determine if the comment in question falls within the boundaries of legitimate criticism or is in breach of the Community Guidelines and therefore needs to be removed.

Any decision about removing a comment attacking a journalist should take into consideration not only the content of the attack but also the vulnerability of the journalist.

Make sure that users receive a message explaining why their comments were removed. However, don’t engage in conversation with aggressors. Doing so would most likely represent a waste of your precious time and may lead to more violent attacks.

Best Practices:

While encouraging the audience engagement, numerous media organisations also publish guidelines of the tone and type of messages that they allow in order to maintain a healthy conversation on their platforms. That is also the case of the German public media organisation Deutsche Welle (DW) that summarises in their “netiquette policy” the rules their users need to observe to post comments both onsite and in their social media platforms.

How to address the audience in a polarized context when the media is accused of partiality

Rob Burley, Editor Live Political Programmes, BBC, UK