Facebook Comments: Frequently Asked Questions

Online commenting offers our readers a vibrant and popular forum for discussion of local issues. With the freedom to comment comes the responsibility to treat other forum participants with respect – and to take responsibility for your own words.
 
To promote the best qualities of reader comments and weed out the worst, we are moving to Facebook’s comment system for all Sound Publishing websites (which serve more than 30 communities around Puget Sound). While not every reader has a Facebook account, at present it is the most widely used social media platform – more than 800 million users worldwide – and integration with its platform will promote integrity and decorum in our comment forums.
 
Why? Facebook commenting encourages and rewards real identity, which we believe is essential to thoughtful community discourse.  Anonymous and mean-spirited comments – which put off many readers and hurt forum participation – are dissuaded and curtailed. Because our goal is honest disclosure of commenter identity, our editors are authorized to block comments from any reader who tries to circumvent the rules, regardless of the nature (positive or negative) of their comments or contributions to the forum.
 
We are not alone in moving to Facebook’s platform for comment moderation. News sites with full or partial rollout of Facebook commenting include www.SeattlePI.com, www.LATimes.com, The Columbian (Vancover, Wash.), Gannett newspapers, Media General news properties, and American City Business Journals, among others. Sound Publishing is proud to be in this vanguard, and we believe it will contribute to open, honest and positive discourse for readers – good for both our news sites and our communities.  
 

How to post comments on Sound Publishing websites

  • Locate the comment box at the bottom of the story
  • Click into the box containing the text "Add a comment" and enter your comment
  • Click the Comment button
  • If you are already logged in to Facebook.com the comment will appear immediately. If not, you will be prompted to login to Facebook.

What happens to my comment?
Comments may be automatically held for any one of several reasons (below). In all cases, comments held for moderation will always be visible both to our moderators and to the author of the comment. As long as you (the author) are logged in to Facebook, you will see your comment regardless of whether or not it has been moderated. 

Reasons Facebook automatically holds comments for moderation:

  • Violation of the profanity filter: the filter looks not just for whole words but strings of text within words. For example, it will hold a comment for the "ass" in "association." We, along with dozens of other media companies, are working with Facebook to change this behavior.
  • Fake account: Facebook has systems to help determine if an account is fake. Typically it looks at when the account was created, how many friends it has and how much activity it has. Commenters who create a new account just to post comments are often caught up by this filter. 
  • Spam: Facebook's systems try to catch spam accounts and shut them down. 
  • Reports from other users: Facebook provides a method for users to report other users' bad behavior. These are acted on by real people, not software, and as such are rarely the cause of blocked comments.

Site moderators can manage individual comments and authors by blocking or allowing them. Comments that make it past the automated moderation systems are posted immediately and automatically. Human-powered moderation takes place after the comment is posted.

As your comments belong to you,not us, Facebook does not ever allow us to delete comments, though we can block them from appearing on our site to anyone but moderators and you. If you opted to have the comment appear on your own Facebook timeline then it will always appear there to you and your friends. 

Facebook does not make IP-level blocking available to moderators. Many workplaces, however, block access to Facebook on their networks, which can disable the comments plugin on our websites. 

Why do I have to use Facebook?
The Facebook commenting interface is easy to navigate and already popular. Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do any other U.S. website, according to a 2011 Social Media report by Nielsen. Overall, our goal is to provide a higher quality of more relevant comments for our readers.
 
Do the same community commenting rules still apply?
Yes, the rules are mostly unchanged. We have added a provision that people commenting under false or assumed identities will be reported to Facebook for violating their Terms of Service and will be blocked from commenting on our site. Overall, our goal is to provide a higher quality of more relevant comments for our readers.
 
Does everyone see my comment?
Yes, the comment you provide on our website will be seen by any visitor to our site. When you submit a comment, it will also appear on Facebook if you leave the "Post to Facebook" box checked.
 
Will people be able to view my Facebook timeline if I post a comment?
Yes, but what they see is determined by your Facebook privacy settings. Those settings allow you to decide how much information you want to share.
 
Do you store my Facebook password?
No, we do not have access to any user information. Facebook controls all log-in and comment-storage activities.
 
What if I want to share an important news tip with you, but keep my name out of it?
We invite news tips and treat them confidentially. If you have information to share, you can always reach our editors and reporters by email or phone. Our contact information is listed on the Contact Us page.
 
Do I need to turn on Cookies in my browser?
In order to log into Facebook, you’ll need to allow third-party cookies on that site, as they store your unique session.
 
I really don’t like Facebook and don’t want to use it just to be able to comment.
Please know that we weighed many variables when making the decision to change our commenting system, including the possibility that some of our readers do not have Facebook accounts. We are not trying to exclude anyone from participating. Our aim is to provide a forum that encourages the highest quality of relevant comments for all of our readers, and the Facebook commenting tool has proven to be an excellent vehicle to achieve that.
 
I have concerns about privacy when using Facebook.
Recently Facebook has implemented several additional privacy options that allow users to control who sees their status updates, their photos, etc. It is possible to set up an account that has minimal personal information about you that allows you to comment at our site.
 
How do I change my Facebook privacy settings?
Facebook has an in-depth page devoted to this topic.
 
Why does my Facebook profile picture and name appear on the comments page when I haven't posted a comment?
If you're signed into Facebook.com, you will be able to see your information, but it is not visible to anyone else until your comment is published.
 
How does the Facebook Comments Plugin work?
Facebook has a helpful FAQ that outlines how their plugins work with your profile.
 
How do I report an inappropriate or abusive comment?
Click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment. Choose one of the options to report a comment as spam or abuse. This information is then sent to Facebook.
 
How do I report a fake Facebook account?
It's against Facebook's terms of service to provide false personal information on a Facebook account. You may report a fake account by clicking on the user's name or picture, then clicking "Report/ Block this person" at the bottom left of the page.
 
Why can't I see the comments?
Comments on our site are public. That means anyone can see the comments, even without a Facebook account, as long as the Facebook application is not blocked by their server -- a common practice by government agencies and some private employers. If you can't see the comments, ask your IT department if it blocks Facebook.
 
What will happen to the old comments?
Comment threads from stories prior to the switch to Facebook comments will be viewable but we will no longer accept new comments on those stories. 

 

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