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Facebook’s Templates for Conflict Resolution and Court ADR

Mary Novak, July 25th, 2014

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.

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4 Responses to “Facebook’s Templates for Conflict Resolution and Court ADR”

  1. Pamela says:

    I’m intrigued by this article, but clicking on the imbeded links failed to take me ‘to the chase’ as I’d expected. The first of the FB programs I clicked on was an hour long. That’s too much time to even peruse it for applicable ideas.
    The other programs’ titles did not ‘at a glance’ shed any obvious light on the Facebook/ADR topic described above.
    I’m interested in this research but I can’t take that much time to watch. Maybe you can offer a synopsis, or more specific video/paperwork?
    Thanks.

    • Mary Novak says:

      I’m glad this information intrigued you so much. I hope there’s more detailed written information on the templates, but unfortunately it’s not easily found. I’ve contacted some of the researchers who are identified with the project and will be sure to post again if I hear more.

      In the meantime, a recommendation and a promise. For anyone who’d like to check out the information now, the two videos most relevant to the CR templates are “New Tools for Understanding People” and the first half of “Bullying: New Lessons from Teenagers.” Next week, I’ll post a synopsis of the relevant portions of each, so be sure to watch this space.

  2. Mary, it looks like Harvard’s Program on Negotiation is following in your blog-steps with an item on this same subject. Here is a long link to the PON item:
    http://www.pon.harvard.edu/?p=41199/?mqsc=NI080520143776845&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=PON%20Harvard+Negotiation%20Insider%20Tuesday&utm_campaign=Negotiation_Insider_08052014

  3. […] my original post about Facebook’s online conflict resolution system, I received some requests for more […]

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