Q You’ve committed to making BBC Sport’s accounts ‘kind and respectful places’. How in practice do you plan to do that?
We are taking very small steps for the first few weeks and not making any wild promises about eradicating hate speech from our accounts entirely…because we’re not sure we can! In practice, I have drawn up a very rudimentary traffic light system of green, amber and red actions so the producers can look at the comments, see which bracket they fall into and can take action accordingly. This includes replying to certain comments or reminding our audience of our stance, as well as having the power to block users who overtly break the rules. By hiding hateful comments and engaging with the most positive and astute replies, we hope that the so-called trolls will stop, or at least think before they type.
Q As many EiM readers will know, getting buy-in to invest in moderation/community management can be difficult. How did you do it and what tips would you recommend?
When I took the initial idea to various parts of the BBC to be signed off, the reaction was positive towards its intentions but I’d often hear “this is very ambitious” or a simple “good luck”! But I never saw it as ambitious. Finding our voice and saying enough is enough was simply the right thing to do. I was extremely lucky to have unwavering support from the BBC’s marketing and creative departments who helped fund the video assets and graphics on launch day. And as I said before, what we’re doing isn’t radical on a practical level, we are simply upping our game on a day-to-day basis and will build from there.
Q Some might say preventing hate on social media is a job for the platforms, not something the BBC should have to do. What would you say to that?
I absolutely agree that the platforms should be doing more and should make this issue a priority. But I also have first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to police, and there are plenty of grey areas to contend with, so I have some sympathy. My big hope is that platforms have taken notice of what we’ve done with our project and realise things need to change - and that big accounts won’t be staying silent on the issue.
Q Finally, what reaction have you seen since the announcement?
Anecdotally, it’s been really positive - both internally and externally. But the hard work starts now! If any of your readers have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you via our moderation email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Caroline for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read previous EiM Q&As here, here and here. Who else would you like me to do a Q&A with? Let me know.