I’ve seen this a few times on Facebook: an elected official blocks an angry constituent, who then takes out their rage on other Facebook pages. “WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF WHAT I HAVE TO SAY????” is a pretty commonly read comment in situations like these. Facebook can be exhausting. That being said, there are some circumstances in which it is totally appropriate, or acceptable, to block a constituent. Here are a few that pop into my head:
- Insults or vulgarity: People can get heated or unkind on Facebook – that’s a given. And, to some extent, as an elected official, you have to be patient when people are upset with you. However, if someone just uses the medium to repeatedly insult you, or your causes, you don’t owe them anything. Block them and be done with it.
- Slanderous behavior: I have someone who would sporadically attack a Lehigh County judge on my page, launching into a series of wild and unsubstantiated accusations. That person was blocked, quickly. Given the bizarre nature of the attacks, we also let the Judge know. Sometimes, in situations like this, that’s an appropriate response because the person who is making the attacks could be a security problem.
- Campaign links: You don’t necessarily have to block someone if they are posting campaign links on your Facebook page, but it might be safer. It is always preferable to keep campaign and government activities completely separate, even on Facebook. Of course, you cannot be expected to control the comments made by others on your wall, but it is easier, as a policy, to delete campaign related material right away.
One of the things that will make your life easier is if you have a written policy on your page that explains in what circumstances you will block someone and remove their comments. For example, on my legislative page, we have this disclaimer:
Comments should center on legitimate concerns or observations relating to legislation, the PA House of Representatives or state government. Political campaign information is strictly prohibited. Posts which violate these restrictions will be removed.
As for how to block someone on a fan page:
- Go to your fan page. If you have the new fan pages (as I think most people now do), click on settings.
- Click on “banned users,” which is the second to last button on the left hand side.
This is not a completely comprehensive list, but it’s a good starting point. Do you have anything to add? Any other circumstances in which you think a block is appropriate? Let me know in the comments!