Facebook recently announced its creation of a self-guided dispute resolution system for users. The company has designed a new user-to-user conflict resolution system that could have implications for court ADR systems as well. As in the courts, Facebook must process a large number of conflicts. While the company manages reports of issues such as threats and graphic violence, they wanted to provide users with tools to handle insults and embarrassing photos on their own. The company worked with a team from Yale to research users’ needs and design a large-scale conflict resolution system. (The videos on this page describe the project and research in depth.) The team designed a series of communication templates that help users create messages to explain why they found someone’s post upsetting. Users may then choose to send the message to seek resolution. First the system asks questions to help users rate their emotions, and adjusts the language in the template to fit. Using the templates, users can select phrases to describe problem posts such as “it shows inappropriate behavior,” or “it hurts my reputation.” After using the templates to draft a message, they can then revise it and send.
While conflict resolution by template seems extreme for a court setting, adapting this system into a quick self-assessment could be a way to help parties privately articulate their feelings before they enter an ADR process. A version of the template system could help parties process their abstract emotions into more concrete statements before they enter the process. “I am hurt and angry, but I am not afraid,” or “I would rate my intensity on this issue at an eight.” For courts, which need very rapid turnarounds in ADR, like a large small claims court with short mediations, templates like Facebook’s could offer a way to give parties some help refining how they articulate their emotions.