KOMU 8's new community guidelines aim to keep comments constructive

1 week 1 day 16 hours ago Monday, July 08 2019 Jul 8, 2019 Monday, July 08, 2019 2:40:00 PM CDT July 08, 2019 in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director

COLUMBIA - In an effort to foster thoughtful and constructive conversations on the news in mid-Missouri and around the world, KOMU 8 is revising its community guidelines for KOMU.com and the station's social media platforms.

We believe they better clarify our policy and lay out clear explanations on what violates that policy.

As always, KOMU 8 appreciates robust debate in our comment threads and strives not to censor the conversation. But certain language and behaviors detract from that conversation and we reserve the right to act accordingly.

Community guidelines:

KOMU 8 uses its website and social media presence to enhance its service to its community through broader sharing and discussion of events and happenings in mid-Missouri and around the world.

Community members’ comments on KOMU 8’s website and social media can advance robust discussion around important issues. We appreciate the time and thought our viewers and others in our community put into their responses and the diverse opinions that these comments can reflect.

We believe this conversation is elevated by instituting and following the community guidelines below. These guidelines apply to postings on the KOMU 8 website and social media, regardless of whether they are submitted as text comments, GIFS,  memes or any other format.

Commenters should be aware it is likely they will be exposed to ideas and viewpoints that differ from their own and should only use KOMU 8’s website and social media with that understanding.

What kind of comments is KOMU 8 News looking for?

We are dedicated to maintaining a respectful atmosphere that encourages thoughtful and lively discussion about the news. We emphasize the words respectful and thoughtful. Vulgar language, name calling, hate speech and threats are among the content that will not be tolerated and can result in removal of a comment or blocking of a user.

What language is discouraged/banned?

Profanity: We believe foul language is not necessary to make a point and that commenters should take all community members into consideration, including minors.

Discriminatory language: Hate speech or personal attacks based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity are contrary to the values of our licensee institution and pose a danger of violence.

Personal attacks: We believe our commenters can make their points without resorting to insulting another commenter or staff members. You may disagree with the content of an article, with the reporter or with another reader’s opinion without name calling.

Threats: Threats of bodily or psychological harm are contrary to the values of our licensee institution, pose a danger of violence and may result in law enforcement involvement.

Inappropriate sexual or scatological content: Any language or image that refers to or show acts of a sexual or scatological nature are inappropriate for this forum.

Spam: Comments are to be used only for noncommercial purposes. We do allow references to GoFundMe or other fundraising efforts if they are directly related to the story at hand, but KOMU 8 reserves the right to delete comments it deems are soliciting for unrelated causes.

Off-topic content: Comments that bear no relation to the story at hand detract from that story and may be deleted.

Certain links: Do not link to content that violates KOMU 8’s community guidelines or to websites or documents meant to harm someone else’s computer.

Does KOMU 8 edit comments?

We do not edit comments for the website or social media. They are either approved or rejected in their entirety. Should we decide to use a comment in a newscast or subsequent web story, we may edit for grammar, punctuation and spelling.

If I find a comment inappropriate, what should I do?

On our website, you can flag comments for review or comment yourself with a complaint. If you take exception to a Facebook comment, please take a screenshot of it, or copy the link of the thread it is in and leave us a message. In any instance, you may also email us at news@KOMU.com with the subject line Inappropriate Comment.

What about criticism of KOMU?

We do not censor criticism of our work unless it expressly violates the guidelines above. We welcome criticism of our work. KOMU 8 News is a training ground for young journalists, and, as such, we realize mistakes will be made. Please point out errors and we will address them. But, as stated above, any personal attacks on our staff will not be tolerated.

Finally, we will not allow comment threads to become bogged down with discussions about our moderation policies, unless the story itself centers on those policies.

Is prohibiting certain comments a violation of free speech?

No. “Free speech” is a phrase related to the First Amendment, which says the government can’t make any law that abridges a person’s right to say what they want to (with certain notable exceptions as summarized on the U.S. Courts’ website). KOMU 8 News is a private business with full ownership of its website and social media pages. Although the station is affiliated with the University of Missouri, it is a commercial entity. Be assured, however, the goal of these community guidelines is not to censor what our viewers have to say. They are meant to raise the level of the conversation by eliminating disrespectful and hurtful language.

What actions might KOMU 8 take if content violates these community guidelines?

Every user agrees to our Terms of Use when accessing the KOMU.com and we apply these to our social media pages. Our Terms of Use state that (1) KOMU 8 News shall have the right, but not the obligation, to monitor the content of KOMU.com, including chat rooms and forums, as well as KOMU 8’s social platforms, to determine compliance with this Agreement and any operating rules established by KOMU 8 News and to satisfy any law, regulation or authorized government request; (2) KOMU 8 shall have the right in its sole discretion to edit, refuse to post or remove any material submitted to or posted on KOMU.com or KOMU 8 social platforms; (3) Without limiting the foregoing, KOMU 8 shall have the right to remove any material that KOMU 8, in its sole discretion, finds to be in violation of the provisions hereof or otherwise objectionable; and (4) KOMU 8 shall have the right to immediately terminate user's account in the event of any conduct by user which KOMU 8, in its sole discretion, considers to be unacceptable, or in the event of any breach by user of this Agreement.

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