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Protecting Yourself From Your Community

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

I’m often worried that organisations with a community team aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect their community staff from problems that can arise in the community (especially larger communities).

If you have a team, I’d suggest policies on the following:

1) Not using your full name or photo. In many communities, the community team either uses their first name or a pseudonym to prevent personal abuse. This isn’t always possible (or acceptable in some professional communities). However, it is a common solution to many problems.

2) Don’t befriend members on social media (whom you haven’t met in person). Do not accept requests from members to become friends on Facebook and Twitter unless you genuinely have spent time with them in person and know them well. If they do attempt to contact you outside of the community, write them a message to let them know it’s best to befriend each other on your community platform instead.

3) Turn the privacy setting up to full-on your social media profiles. This is easier for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram than it is for LinkedIn. You may wish to reconsider whether you want to list your current place of employment on LinkedIn. Be aware that if you use the same username or images on one account for any other – people can track you down easily. If you don’t want members knowing your eBay buying history – use a completely different username.

4) Never reveal location information. Don’t broadcast when you and/or your partner are away from home or any place you’re likely to be in the future.

5) Use anonymous domain registrars. If you have personal websites linked to your name, it’s important to use an anonymous domain registrar to hide your address.

6) Use two-factor authentication on all email and social media accounts. Ensure you use two-factor authentication on all your accounts. This makes it far more difficult for people to hack your accounts. For even better security, use an authentication tool rather than SMS message as your choice of authentication.

7) Create a process to report discomfort. Every community manager should be able to report discomfort with a member (don’t wait for explicit harassment) internally and receive support.

If you’re managing a community, it’s unlikely you’re ever going to experience a major problem. However, like fire-safety, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for problems and take reasonable steps to prevent problems from arising.

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