FAQ: Commenting on via Facebook

On Thursday, we will complete an overhaul of our commenting system, and you will need to be logged into Facebook in order to comment on any of our articles. There are several reasons why we did this, and you should be sure to check out our article on why we think this is the way forward. But outside of the why, we figure you might have some specific questions on how this affects you. We will take a stab at anticipating your questions and answering them here. Do you have a question we didn TMt answer? Please email:

What will this look like for me?

The look and feel of Facebook Comments is similar to the old {<}Insert Name/URL of Website here{>} comments feature. You will be able to scroll to the bottom of a story to view existing comments. Unlike the old comments feature, however, you must have a Facebook account in order to post a comment.

OK, I have a Facebook page, but how do I submit a comment?

If you are already logged into a Facebook account, you can open a story and immediately post a new comment or reply to an existing comment. It TMs just that easy. If you are not signed into Facebook, you will be asked to login after you type their comment and press the submit button.

Can I create a fake Facebook page just so I can comment on your articles?

You can try, but you likely won TMt be successful. Facebook does a great job of figuring out whether or not a commenter is an actual person. This means that a comment made by someone using a non-verified, new or low-activity Facebook account cannot be viewed by others until a moderator approves the comment or Facebook (not the station) decides you TMre a real person.

All right already, I TMm buying into this Facebook comment thing, but what do all these new boxes and options mean?

Follow a post. If you select "Follow a Post" under a comment, you will receive a Facebook notification each time someone replies to your comment. You don TMt have to reply to the post or like the post. And you will not be identified on the site as having followed the post.

Mark post as spam or abuse. The more people who report a particular comment as spam or abuse, the more likely the comment will be removed from public view

Facebook notifications. You will receive a notification on your profile when someone replies to your comment, likes your comment or posts an additional comment to the article.

Post to wall. You now have the option to post your comment to your wall along with a link back to the story " this is in addition to appearing in the story's comment stream. When a friend replies to this wall post on Facebook, their reply will be visible in the story's comment stream on our website as well as on the Facebook page.

Like an individual comment. The fact that you liked the comment will not show up in your newsfeed on Facebook. This simply lets Facebook take note of a comment that is getting a lot of attention, and it may encourage the Facebook platform to boost that comment to the top of the comment stream.

I TMve purposely avoided getting a Facebook page, and I don TMt want one. So, why are you excluding me?

We hear you. There are many people in our community who don TMt have or want a Facebook page. However, the reality is that Facebook has become the accepted standard for commenting on not only news websites but also entertainment pages. Here are some examples:

OK, the reason I haven TMt signed up for Facebook is that I really don TMt want people to know what I TMm doing every minute. I TMm more private than that.

We understand the concern over privacy. It TMs become a huge issue for people looking for jobs, and with the ability to Google everything, we can see how you wouldn TMt want those Vegas pictures to surface to the wrong person. Ever. We could help you set up a private Facebook profile that may allay your concerns. Let us show you how. (LINK TO ARTICLE ON PRIVACY SETTINGS)

I don TMt want your help. Seriously, I don TMt want to use Facebook. Now will you let me comment on your article?

Sorry, but no. Not having a Facebook page is definitely your choice, and we respect that. But we have discovered that our primary objective in making this change is to have real conversations with real people. And, thus far, the only platform that allows us to verify you TMre a real person is Facebook. If we see another way to do this in the future, we TMll certainly consider adding that into our platform.

I TMm on Facebook, but my boss is my friend. I don TMt want him to know my political views, is there a way to comment honestly and protect my privacy?

Yes | and no. The only way you can truly be sure your boss won TMt see something you don TMt want him/her to see is to not be friends with him/her on FB. That said, there are definitely a couple ways to protect your posts. First, you can simply choose not to share your comment on the Facebook wall. That way your boss would only know you commented on a story is if he happened across that exact article and read the comments. Alternately, if you protect your posts so that your boss cannot see pictures, comments and articles that you share, he won TMt be able to see your post even if you do share it on your wall. Find out more about your Facebook privacy settings here: Plus, if you TMve protected your wall and your boss does happen across that exact article, he won TMt be able to see your comment. BUT (and this is a biggie), this assumes that he is logged into Facebook. If he isn TMt logged into Facebook and comes across that article, he will see your comment as a public post.

If I TMve blocked someone from my Facebook page, will they be able to see my comments on your story page?

Yes | and no. If that blocked person is logged into Facebook at the time that they view the article, they cannot see your comments. If you TMve blocked them on Facebook, they will see other people TMs comments and replies, but they cannot see yours. BUT (the big one again), if they are not logged into Facebook at the time they view the comments on our story page, they will be able to see your comment as a public post. Keep in mind, you are still commenting on a story on our website, not on your Facebook wall, so you have to be sure that what you write here is something you are OK with the public viewing.

You actually think people will be nicer just because you TMve attached their Facebook profile to their comment?

Actually, we do think people will be nicer. There are certainly people out there who are mean-spirited and don TMt care who knows it. But websites that have adopted the Facebook commenting platform have noticed a significantly reduced backlog of off-color comments and trolls. Plus, this new platform makes it easier for you to flag a comment or user, and it makes it easier for us to ban them if they TMre consistently inappropriate.

Is it your goal to eliminate comments? A lot of employers ban Facebook from office computers.

Nope. This is not a goal at all. However, if we end up getting fewer comments, but more of those we do get are thoughtful, relevant and respectful to the views of others and consistent with the values of our community, we are OK with that.

Is this supposed to shut me up or muzzle me in some way?

Not at all! We absolutely welcome your opinions, and we hope you TMll keep them coming! What we think, hope and expect will happen is that people who hide behind an anonymous name to hurl threats or racial slurs will clean up their act. And, if they don TMt clean up their act, we think that you, our community, will self police those people by flagging their comments and helping us to ban them from our site.

What if I TMm offended by user TMs comment?

You can mark a comment for abuse. The comment will not disappear until a specified number of different users flag the same comment, at which point it goes to the attention of the moderator.

How many flags does it take?

Unfortunately, we don TMt have that magic number to share. Facebook controls that, the station does not.

Can I delete my own comment or reply?


What happens when I do?

If you made a comment and had it posted to Facebook as well, deleting the comment from the story page will remove the comment from both the story page and your Facebook page. If you remove the comment from Facebook only, your comment will remain on the story page.

It seems that a lot of people are against this change. Who exactly were you listening to when you decided to implement this change?

We were listening to everyone. In addition to the comments you may see on our articles, we get a lot of phone calls and emails from people who are afraid to comment on our stories because they don TMt want to get bullied. What you may see here, or throughout our site, is not the sum of the feedback we receive. While we understand that not everyone is going to like this change, we truly do believe it will help create a more productive discussion. Many other concerns expressed also suggest that some users don TMt fully understand what this change means, or doesn TMt mean, to their ability to post comments here. Having looked in detail at the impact of this change on other websites, we are confident that once our audience has a chance to use this new solution, they will see that it really is very effective and easy to use.

I TMm a public figure, and it TMs really important to keep my opinions private. So, now you TMre saying I can TMt join in the conversation?

We TMre sorry you feel that way. Our goal is for real people to have real conversations on this website about real issues that impact our community. We would hope that, for the most part, public figures would find such a forum useful, as public figures often use TV, radio, newspapers and websites in attempts to get their message across, reach members of our community and foster important conversations. Our view is that all opinions will be welcome here, but that they must made by real people willing to stand behind their point of view, rather than hide behind a cloak of anonymity. A real world metaphor is that we would like this forum to foster the same types of passionate conversation one might find at a town hall, PTA, school board, planning commission meeting or other public forum for important conversations about our community. We don TMt see being a public figure as an inhibitor to participation in such conversations and hope that you do not either.

Why don TMt you just block the IP address of the offenders?

While this seems like an easy out, blocking an IP address is a little more complicated than it appears, and it doesn TMt help us reach the goal we TMre trying to achieve: real comments from real people. By blocking an IP address, you block all content associated with that IP, which means it isn TMt selective. So, if someone is using a computer at a library, every future user would also be blocked from commenting on our site. And, just because you block an IP, that doesn TMt stop someone from going to another computer and logging back in, any more than the banning of any single anonymous alias would stop that user from creating five more and posting more undesirable commentary.

You have the power to delete comments, but you don TMt do it. You TMre just being lazy.

We do have the power to delete, but as soon as we delete one comment, we become liable for all comments. And as a news organization, we choose not to be a censor. By switching to Facebook, we think the need to delete and censor will disappear, as this forum is much more self-moderated than our current commenting platform. Users can opt to report abusive comments, and Facebook algorithmically decides when that comment should be blocked. Plus, when people have to attach a real name to their reply, they choose their words more carefully.

Why are you taking away my anonymity and freedom of choice?

We are not taking away your choice. You still have the choice to comment or not and of what to say and how to say it. If we wanted to remove your choice, we TMd stop the ability for commenting altogether on our website. By taking away your anonymity, we are simply ensuring that people are willing to back up what they say with a real name. Being anonymous made it too easy for people to say mean and hurtful things without any accountability. Now every poster has to be accountable for their words.

Well, that TMs just discrimination. I don TMt use (and don TMt want to use) Facebook.

If you want us to know what you think on a topic, you are always more than welcome to call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX or send us an email at We value your opinion. However, by switching to the Facebook commenting platform, we do not believe we are discriminating. We are simply requiring people to attach their real names to their comments. Right now Facebook is the best option to do this. As others arise, we will explore them and, if appropriate, add them to the site. It is worth noting that more than 800 million people worldwide use Facebook and that more than 90 percent of adults in the US who are online use it. It is 100 percent free of charge, available worldwide, accessible to all and as the world TMs leading forum for online conversation, brings far more assets to provide effective moderation and other features and functionality that users enjoy, than any TV station (or radio station, newspaper, etc.) website could hope to. This is why, as noted in other parts of this documentation, so many other websites, blogs and online properties are doing the same thing.

Do you get paid by Facebook to implement this change?


Why don TMt you get a moderator? There are other solutions to foster respect other than turning to Facebook.

With the hundreds of comments that we get on our site each day, no one person could adequately moderate every comment. We TMve researched other solutions, and we TMve even tried a few. At this time, Facebook is our best option to ensure that people keep it real while commenting on our stories. In truth, we honestly do not wish to moderate. We do not seek to delete comments or to ban users. What we seek is to raise the level of conversation to the point where it meets our community standards and to ask all members of our community to adhere to those shared values. We feel like the best way to do this is to require users to comment with their real names. For those who value their online anonymity and would prefer we find a solution that would preserve that, we respectfully disagree. There will always be other online forums for anonymous debate, and we welcome your use of those at your discretion. {<}Insert Web Site Name{>}, and {<}Insert TV Brand{>}, however, wish to move forward with a conversational platform between those willing to stand behind their comments with real names, as we do online, on Facebook and on TV every day.

Does this change affect how I submit calendar items, birthdays and other community information?

No. You can submit birthdays, calendar items and other community information just as you TMve always done.

And just so you know, we aren TMt the only ones who think this is a good idea. Here are some articles that give a little more background on what commenting via Facebook means | and why it TMs a good thing.

Facebook commenting system is good and bad news

Facebook comments have silenced the trolls " but is it too quiet?

The pros and cons of Facebook comments