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'If you send a nasty message you are gone' - the challenges of running a Facebook community group

PUBLISHED: 15:12 03 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:10 04 November 2019

Chris Speed, 41, runs Gorleston-on-Sea Life, a Facebook community page. Picture: Courtesy of Chris Speed.

Chris Speed, 41, runs Gorleston-on-Sea Life, a Facebook community page. Picture: Courtesy of Chris Speed.

Archant

After his wife received an "upsetting, nasty message", Chris Speed stepped out of the shadows and posted on Gorleston-on-Sea Life, the Facebook community group he manages.

Sue Wharton Weaver, 57, helps administer Hemsby Local Chat. Picture: Sue Wharton Weaver.Sue Wharton Weaver, 57, helps administer Hemsby Local Chat. Picture: Sue Wharton Weaver.

"Who would have thought that running this page would be so troublesome," he asked, rhetorically.

It was only the second time Mr Speed, 41, who set up the group in January, had posted a comment on the page.

Like the administrators of many such groups, he generally prefers to stay in the background, monitoring content, approving or deleting posts and comments, making sure the page remains civil, respectful.

The group now has 7,000 members and during the heavy rains in early October, more than 700 new members joined in one day.

"If it snows this winter, people will want to get information and join the group, and most of them stay," he says.

Mr Speed spends approximately six to seven hours a week administering the page, assisted by his wife and five other administrators.

"I try to put in a sort of rule, about being courteous to each other, don't be nasty," he says.

He thinks the group has had a positive effect on the town itself, explaining: "Gorleston seems to have got itself together, I think the page has helped people to be proud of Gorleston."

Challenges of the role are when people disagree.

And last month, after a member posted about an incident in the town, Mr Speed's wife received a "nasty" message.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but you can't send messages like that," he says.

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"I try not to comment on my own page, it makes it easier."

At the other end of the borough, Sue Wharton Weaver, 57, is an administrator on Hemsby Local Chat, a group created in 2014.

"I for one don't like when people name and shame people, that's not beneficial to the community," she says.

"What is beneficial is it brings the community together to see what people need or want, you only have to ask on Facebook," she adds.

She spends at least 30 minutes a day checking posts and comments on the page.

"A lot of people are very isolated because of health or old age, in remote areas, but this can bring them together," Ms Wharton Weaver says.

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