Give us your feedback?

Posted on Jan 11, 2017 in Plain Language Blog Articles

feedback blog imageWe’ve all felt the frustration of filling out an online comment card that looks like it was created by someone who had never seen the website you want to comment on in the first place. “Have a Comment?” the site asks enthusiastically. You click on the digital Comment Card link. The page opens, and you scan for the options that most closely match your feedback. It’s not there.

Are you the only one who has ever had this issue? Finding nothing that is even vaguely similar to your situation, you close the page in shame or crazily type a novella in an open text box on the page. Neither option reaches the result that was in mind when the site was created.

On a recent episode of Radiolab (, the podcast focused on a similar user experience involving the world’s largest social media site, Facebook. Told by Arturo Bejar, director of Facebook’s Protect and Care Team, the issue revolved around how Facebook garnered feedback about posted pictures.

Returning from Christmas holiday in 2014, Bejar discovered that users had requested to take down millions of pictures, citing Facebook’s Hate Speech Removal Policy. Upon closer examination, Bejar and his team discovered that virtually none of the pictures contained prohibited content but appeared to have been tagged, instead, as inappropriate by someone in the picture.

What was the real issue? Facebook’s policy only allowed pictures to be removed in cases of obscene or hateful content. Pictures that were simply unflattering or embarrassing to those in them were to be posted in perpetuity. The poor Facebook “taggee” was left waiting nervously for the latest viral video to push the offending snap out of view.

How did Facebook solve the dilemma of maintaining content integrity while keeping in tune with user needs? Revamping its feedback screen to allow for direct communication between users who post and those who are offended drastically reduced the number of requests to delete posts and, as an added bonus, removed Facebook from the middle of thousands of family squabbles!

For more on Facebook’s feedback experience, watch Bejar’s presentation at Wisdom 2.0 by visiting


Rebecca AskewAbout the Author: Rebecca Askew is a lawyer and business owner based in Denver, Colorado. Her company, Circuit Media, provides design, communications, staffing and logistics services to law and government. She is also on the board of the Center for Plain Language.