The online community space has always been rife with its unique challenges. And now, Facebook, under the Meta umbrella, has thrown a curveball that might raise eyebrows, especially given the recent controversies at Reddit.
Recently, Meta flagged a significant shift in its group management policy. As shared by social media expert, Matt Navarra, Facebook issued notifications to certain group admins. The gist? If admins don’t ramp up their activity and moderation, Meta could replace them with another group member within just a week.
Meta’s current policy has been rather straightforward: Groups without admins either see suggested members becoming admins or face archiving after a certain period. But this new approach - the risk of replacement - is indeed a fresh direction for the platform.
The background to this change can be understood better in light of Reddit's recent upheavals. Reddit faced backlash when they decided to raise the price of their API access. A considerable segment of subreddit moderators retaliated by locking their communities. This move had significant repercussions for Reddit's ad revenue, as blocked subreddits instantly became ad-ineligible.
As a countermeasure, Reddit started overseeing some subreddit moderation while revising rules to streamline such interventions in the future. This essentially conveys to the Reddit community that moderators can be swapped as per the platform's business needs.
For Meta, ads in groups are a valuable asset. Given the Reddit scenario, the tech giant probably realized the vulnerability of its ad platforms. Large inactive groups could potentially shut down, leading to lost ad opportunities. Meta's policy alteration might be a proactive step to avoid such pitfalls.
However, this move could backfire. Volunteer community managers may view this as an infringement on their autonomy. It's disheartening to imagine returning from a hiatus only to discover your group, nurtured over the years, is now led by someone you might not endorse.
To mitigate extreme reactions, Meta might incorporate group size considerations. Smaller groups, like a 'Friday Night Basketball' gathering, might not fall under the radar of these policy changes.
While the intent behind retaining engagement-heavy communities is commendable, there are questions about execution. Could Meta have devised a less intrusive way to maintain group continuity? Possibly. Or maybe softer notifications didn’t yield the desired results, leading to this assertive strategy.
The online community landscape is evolving, and this development underscores platforms' urgency to ensure that engagement isn’t lost due to admin inertia.
As platforms become more reliant on user engagement for revenue, the dynamics of community management are bound to evolve. Meta’s recent move signifies a step in that direction.