Impersonation, solicitation and sexual predators


(Liz Crampton) #1

Oh my!

Things we’re all unfortunately well-versed in as CMs. At Fitbit we’re running into problems with these things. I’m curious how other communities deal with this:

  1. Impersonation - in our in-app community, users are frequently reporting profiles for using photos that aren’t them. You can verify this to some extent through google image search/romance scammer sites - but from our perspective doesn’t constitute ‘impersonation’ (lots of people use a profile pic of their cat or kids or fave superhero etc). So beyond being suspect, they are not violating community guidelines. Does any one else have this problem? How do you handle these kind of reports?

  2. Solicitation - We are seeing customers exchange personal information over private message (we only review reported messages) and connecting on other social platforms - after which one of the parties is usually solicited for money etc. and then they come back to Fitbit and report this as solicitation (but we can’t verify it). So, the vast majority of reports we can do nothing about.
    How are you all monitoring private messages (if at all), managing reports of solicitation and do you allow exchange of personal info between members?

  3. Sexual predators - an inevitability of any online space. How do you define this and sexual harassment, do you moderate ‘consensual’ explicit private messages and do you protect minors from this in any different way? We’re discussing disabling private messaging for under 18s in our community.

Really keen to hear from you all or if anyone has time to connect for a 20 min call about this/your policies, that would be awesome!

(Matt Mecham) #2

Hi Liz!

The relative anonymity a community affords is certainly a double edged sword.

My thoughts on your points are as follows:

  1. Unless your T&C prohibits this, it’s hard to police; and indeed should you? The great thing about a forum is that you can create a personality for that forum. Unlike social media where typically you use a personal photo you are free to choose an image that you feel best represents you.

Unless this impersonation becomes malicious or an attempt to manipulate, I would say it’s fair game. Obvious caveats apply about using trademarked/copyright images.

I would look at their profile and recent postings to make a judgement to decide if the individual is looking to deceive others, or has just created a new persona for themselves.

  1. We only check personal messages when they are reported. There is no easy answer. You could shut off personal messages completely, but that ruins it for everyone. Perhaps use groups (if your system supports it) to only permit personal messages for more trusted users. It won’t fix it, but might reduce the volume.

  2. I would just ensure your T&C requests that all public and personal postings are PG-13 or lower. There’s more than enough messaging mediums for consensual explicit messages. It doesn’t need to be on your community.

Disabling messenger for under 18s may not be a bad move if it’s a growing problem for your particular community.

(Liz Crampton) #3

Hi @mattmecham thanks for the reply.

1 - Good shout, it is one of the liberties of creating an online persona. The tricky part lies in guessing whether users are trying to deceive or not - some scammers are pretty sophisticated when it comes to that.

3 - The problem is on a community like Fitbit, where users have worked hard and want to show off their bodies, it can be really hard to draw a line between what’s PG-13 and what’s not. A scantily clad woman showing off her abs and arms are fair game in a strength training group for example. I think a simple solution is to make it for 18 years plus, but it’s an interesting conversation.

Thanks a lot for your thoughts!