Facebook rolls out new tools for Group admins, including automated moderation aids
Facebook today introduced a new set of tools aimed at helping Facebook Group administrators get a better handle on their online communities and, potentially, help keep conversations from going off the rails. Among the more interesting new tools is a machine-learning-powered feature that alerts admins to potentially unhealthy conversations taking place in their group. Another lets the admin slow down the pace of a heated conversation, by limiting how often group members can post.
Facebook Groups are today a significant reason why people continue to use the social network. Today, there are “tens of millions” of groups, that are managed by over 70 million active admins and moderators worldwide, Facebook says.
The company for years has been working to roll out better tools for these group owners, who often get overwhelmed by the administrative responsibilities that come with running an online community at scale. As a result, many admins give up the job and leave groups to run somewhat unmanaged — thus allowing them to turn into breeding grounds for misinformation, spam and abuse.
Facebook last fall tried to address this problem by rolling out new group policies to crack down on groups without an active admin, among other things. Of course, the company’s preference would be to keep groups running and growing by making them easier to operate.
That’s where today’s new set of features come in.
A new dashboard called Admin Home will centralize admin tools, settings and features in one place, as well as present “pro tips” that suggest other helpful tools tailored to the group’s needs.
Image Credits: Facebook
Another new Admin Assist feature will allow admins to automatically moderate comments in their groups by setting up criteria that can restrict comments and posts more proactively, instead of forcing admins to go back after the fact and delete them, which can be problematic — especially after a discussion has been underway and members are invested in the conversation.
For example, admins can now restrict people from posting if they haven’t had a Facebook account for very long or if they had recently violated the group’s rules. Admins can also automatically decline posts that contain specific promotional content (perhaps MLM links! Hooray!) and then share feedback with the author of the post automatically about why those posts aren’t allowed.
Admins can also take advantage of suggested preset criteria from Facebook to help with limiting spam and managing conflict.
Image Credits: Facebook
One notable update is a new moderation alert type dubbed “conflict alerts.” This feature, currently in testing, will notify admins when a potentially contentious or unhealthy conversation is taking place in the group, Facebook says. This would allow an admin to quickly take an action — like turning off comments, limiting who could comment, removing a post, or however else they would want to approach the situation.
Conflict alerts are powered by machine learning, Facebook explains. Its machine-learning model looks at multiple signals, including reply time and comment volume to determine if engagement between users has or might lead to negative interactions, the company says.
This is sort of like an automated expansion on the Keyword Alerts feature many admins already use to look for certain topics that lead to contentious conversations.
Image Credits: Facebook
A related feature, also new, would allow admins to also limit how often specific members could comment, or how often comments could be added to posts admins select.
When enabled, members can leave one comment every five minutes. The idea here is that forcing users to pause and consider their words amid a heated debate could lead to more civilized conversations. We’ve seen this concept enacted on other social networks, as well — such as with Twitter’s nudges to read articles before retweeting, or those that flag potentially harmful replies, giving you a chance to reedit your post.
Image Credits: Facebook
Facebook, however, has largely embraced engagement on its platform, even when it’s not leading to positive interactions or experiences. Though small, this particular feature is an admission that building a healthy online community means sometimes people shouldn’t be able to immediately react and comment with whatever thought first popped into their head.
Additionally, Facebook is testing tools that allow admins to temporarily limit activity from certain group members.
If used, admins will be able to determine how many posts (between one and nine posts) per day a given member may share, and for how long that limit should be in effect for (every 12 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or 28 days). Admins will also be able to determine how many comments (between one and 30 comments, in five-comment increments) per hour a given member may share, and for how long that limit should be in effect (also every 12 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or 28 days).
Along these same lines of building healthier communities, a new member summary feature will give admins an overview of each member’s activity on their group, allowing them to see how many times they’ve posted and commented, have had posts removed or have been muted.
Image Credits: Facebook
Facebook doesn’t say how admins are to use this new tool, but one could imagine admins taking advantage of the detailed summary to do the occasional cleanup of their member base by removing bad actors who continually disrupt discussions. They could also use it to locate and elevate regular contributors without violations to moderator roles, perhaps.
Admins will also be able to tag their group rules in comment sections, disallow certain post types (e.g., Polls or Events), and submit an appeal to Facebook to re-review decisions related to group violations, if in error.
Image Credits: Facebook
Of particular interest, though a bit buried amid the slew of other news, is the return of Chats, which was previously announced.
Facebook had abruptly removed Chat functionality back in 2019, possibly due to spam, some had speculated. (Facebook said it was product infrastructure.) As before, Chats can have up to 250 people, including active members and those who opted into notifications from the chats. Once this limit is reached, other members will not be able to engage with that specific chat room until existing active participants either leave the chat or opt out of notifications.
Now, Facebook group members can start, find and engage in Chats with others within Facebook Groups instead of using Messenger. Admins and moderators can also have their own chats.
Notably, this change follows on the heels of growth from messaging-based social networks, like IRL, a new unicorn (due to its $1.17 billion valuation), as well as the growth seen by other messaging apps, like Telegram, Signal and other alternative social networks.
Image Credits: Facebook
Along with this large set of new features, Facebook also made changes to some existing features, based on feedback from admins.
It’s now testing pinned comments and introduced a new “admin announcement” post type that notifies group members of the important news (if notifications are being received for that group).
Plus, admins will be able to share feedback when they decline group members.
Image Credits: Facebook
The changes are rolling out across Facebook Groups globally in the coming weeks.
We’re Updating A Few Admin Tools to Help You Manage Your Group More Effectively
Admins lead the way in making their Facebook Groups run smoothly. We’re excited to share that over the coming days, we’re introducing new ways to organize content and take a break from your group when you need it. Plus, we’ve added the ability to give members feedback while reviewing pending posts as well as added new details on moderation actions to the Activity Log. These features are available on iOS, Android, and the new facebook.com.
Organize content using new topics
Facebook Groups are home to many valuable conversations, insights, and ideas, but organizing posts so that people can easily find what matters to them can be a challenge. To help with this, we’re making changes to post topics.
We’re changing the format of topics from tags to hashtags, a familiar way to categorize and browse content. Both admins and members may now create topics for the group by adding a hashtag to a keyword or phrase while writing a post, saving admins time and making more posts easier to discover. When a group member clicks on a topic, they’ll be brought to a page featuring content with that topic, so they can view more about something they’re interested in.
As an admin, you’ll be able to:
- Add up to five topics to a member’s post (previously, you could add one). If you have post approval turned on, you may do so from the pending post queue.
- Pin topics, elevating the ones you find important or relevant for your group. Members will see pinned topics in the Add Topic section when writing their post; at the top of the topics list, accessible through the “Topics” button at the top of the group; and in the Topics In This Group unit that displays in the group.
If you’re an admin using the existing tag version of topics, you will receive an option to begin using this new version, with the choice to move your existing topic tags to the new hashtag format.
Pause your group, when needed
We’ve heard that admins are interested in a way to temporarily pause activity in their Groups from time to time, allowing them to take a break from moderation. This can enable a no-stress weekend away, or week of holiday for you/your admin team. This new feature, which will replace the option to archive groups, temporarily puts posting, commenting, reacting, or requesting to join a group on pause. When you pause, you can share an optional announcement post with your group as well as choose how long you’d like to pause your group for. If you specify a date for the group to resume, it will resume automatically at that time. You will get a notification once your group is open again.
Share feedback as you review pending posts
We also know providing members with feedback on posts they submit for approval is helpful to improve the quality of content in your group. Now, from your pending posts, you can add feedback to posts you decline. This includes showing which Group Rule(s) the post violates, with the option of including additional feedback. Post authors can view this feedback, adjust the post, and resubmit for review. Post authors who receive feedback will see it was shared by “an admin,” giving admins a more anonymous way to share their feedback.
View new details from your Activity Log
We’re also adding new details to your Activity Log to give admins the context needed to review moderation activity all in one place. Admins can now click to see details on posts as well as member requests that were approved or declined. For declined posts, the detail will include any feedback admins included. This can help you review moderation actions in your group and undo actions as needed.
Save Time Managing Your Group with Admin Assist
Easily and efficiently moderate posts by setting up Admin Assist to take action automatically, based on criteria you set up.
We’ve heard from many admins how much time and effort it takes to manage your groups, and that keeping your group safe and on topic is a top priority. That’s why we’re excited to announce that Admin Assist is rolling out to all groups — both Private Groups and Public Groups — over the coming weeks. Admin Assist allows you to set up content controls that run automatically. This builds on existing features like keyword alerts and post approval to help you monitor and control the content in your group. Our goal is to help you do more in less time. Admin Assist offers powerful new ways to keep your group safe while keeping you, as an admin, in full control.
Here’s how Admin Assist works: you can set up tasks in Admin Assist, based on criteria you choose. Those tasks then run automatically based on your criteria. For example, you can limit promotional content in your group by automatically declining posts that have certain keywords, or that include a link, or are from people who haven’t been members of the group for a specific amount of time. In short, Admin Assist enables you to set controls on what content is published and who can post in your Group. Today, you can use Admin Assist to take action on posts. In the coming weeks, you’ll be able to set criteria in Admin Assist for comments, too.
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The best part of Admin Assist are its end-to-end features that give you full control. It’s easy to get started with our sets of suggested criteria that you can add, based on what you’re trying to accomplish — such as preventing spam and promotional content — and then customize. You can also provide feedback to those who post with the option for them to edit and re-submit posts for moderation, as well as mute and block people who don’t meet certain criteria. Finally, you can review and undo actions in Activity Log, as needed.
Admin Assist works hand in hand with existing admin tools, such as post approvals and keyword alerts. For example, if you have post approval turned on, posts not impacted by the criteria you’ve set in Admin Assist will go to your pending posts for review.
Admin Assist is available from a computer browser and well as on mobile (both Android and iOS). Admin Assist is rolling out to both Private and Public Groups, including the new Public Groups experience.
Why use Admin Assist?
Admin Assist can help with:
- Efficiency – Do more in less time. You set your criteria, and Admin Assist automatically reviews for you. This reduces what you need to manually review.
- Control – Manage who can post and the quality of content posted. You can limit participation both based on the author (including their history in your group, whether they’ve violated group rules, and how long they have been a member), as well as the content of posts (including whether they use specific keywords or include links). Admin Assist also works in tandem with post approval, so you can review content unaffected by the criteria you set.
- Transparency – Admin Assist only undertakes the actions you set up for it to run. You can review and undo actions as needed, and update your criteria over time. In addition, people in the group can see when they don’t meet criteria to post, and you can also share this criteria with people via Admin Assist when it takes action on their posts.
- Better content – Share feedback with post authors when Admin Assist takes action on your behalf, with the option for them to edit their posts and re-submit for moderation.
- Flexibility – Choose from many options to set up Admin Assist to work in ways that best suit your group. There are more than 15 criteria to choose from, as well as preset criteria you can customize.
How to Use Admin Assist
Here’s an overview of how to leverage Admin Assist:
- Select a task to set up for Admin Assist to run: Admin Assist can currently decline incoming posts, delete posts, and also turn off commenting on published posts. In the new Public Groups experience, you can automatically approve participant requests and review posts that are likely spam, based on criteria you sent. (You can set up one, as many or as few tasks as you need.)
- Choose criteria for that task: Admin Assist will move forward with each task, when it meets any of the criteria you choose. You have two options to add criteria:
Click on Admin Assist and choose a task to get started.
- Add a preset with suggested criteria to get started (recommended): We have suggested criteria based on feedback from admins to help you get started, to help tackle priorities such as preventing spam and promotional content. You can edit these to fit your group’s needs by clicking the 3 dot menu to the right of each criteria.
- Add individual criteria: Across tasks, there are more than 15 options for criteria that relate to the content of each post or the history of its author, that you can also add individually. Click “see more options” to view and add these criteria.
Choose from presets of suggested criteria.
- Share feedback: You can input custom feedback tied to each specific criteria, that Admin Assist will share with posters who don’t meet that criteria. Post authors then have the option to incorporate your feedback and re-submit the post for review. Potential participants can also see when they are ineligible to post in the group, based on the criteria you’ve set up.
- Mute and block: You can also opt to automatically mute or block people who submit posts that don’t meet specific criteria. For example, you can choose to mute people who use profanities identified by keyword criteria, and choose a length of time to mute them, between one day and three months.
- Note: Once you have selected your criteria and set up your additional actions, remember to click "Apply Criteria" or “Save.” Admin Assist will then start automatically applying your criteria. You can edit these at any time.
What a poster sees when you share that the criteria has not been met.
Access options to share feedback, mute, and block via “Advanced Settings”
Click “Apply Criteria” to put your criteria into action.
From Activity Log, review and undo Admin Assist actions.
How to Get Started
Admin Assist is rolling out to everyone over the coming months. When you gain access, you’ll see a message appear in your group to get started with Admin Assist. Once you have onboarded, you can access Admin Assist from a computer browser or mobile. In your admin tools, you’ll see a section called “Admin Assist.” From there, you can select a task, and then choose corresponding criteria, as well as share feedback from advanced settings.
We’re excited to expand the control you have as an admin with Admin Assist — to maintain high quality, authentic conversations, and build healthy, safe communities — all while saving time that you can otherwise spend engaging with your community.
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