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AARP Politics Forum Sunsetting Frequently Asked Questions

We wanted to let you know that AARP's online communities' politics forum has shut down as of April 5, 2021.

 

Over time, the tone of the discussions in the politics forum had grown increasingly partisan and offensive. Unfortunately, it was preventing a civil exchange of ideas and viewpoints. We want AARP's interactive spaces to be inviting and civil, and provide a positive interactive experience for everyone.  

 

The other forums will remain open and subject to AARP's recently updated Community Guidelines and AARP's Terms of Service. We hope you enjoy using these spaces to discuss the issues important to you and the challenges facing Americans 50 and older.

 

Below is a listing of our most frequently asked questions.

 

Why did AARP remove the general politics forum?

The tone of the discussions in the politics forum had grown increasingly partisan and offensive and was preventing a civil exchange of ideas and viewpoints. We want AARP's interactive spaces to be inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone.  

 

Is the removal temporary?

No. This is a permanent decision made by AARP. To ensure that AARP's interactive spaces are inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone, changes made to our guidelines and the community will continue to reflect the core values of AARP and encourage positive interactions as we address the challenges of Americans 50 and older.

 

Why is the political area the only area removed? Aren't Medicare and Social Security considered political? These are still areas in the online community.

Those topics are critically important and we encourage members of our online communities to have spirited, robust discussions about them. But those discussions should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based. If a discussion veers off-topic into general political discussion or accusations, you will be cited. Please refer to our Community Guidelines and AARP Terms of Service.

 

Why can't we discuss politics in the online community?

Many of the topics discussed in these communities – including healthcare, retirement, and Social Security – have political dimensions. These are serious topics that affect people's lives in profound ways. They can stir up strong emotions. We should have spirited debates about all of them, but those debates should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based.

Will we be allowed to discuss political topics related to health care, money, and other topics that affect seniors in other areas?

Yes. Many of the topics discussed in these communities – including healthcare, retirement, and Social Security – have political dimensions. We should have spirited debates about all of them, but those debates should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based. If a discussion veers off-topic into general political discussion or accusations, you will be cited. Please refer to our Community Guidelines and AARP Terms of Service.

Is AARP slowly getting rid of its online community?

No. But to ensure that AARP's interactive spaces are inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone, we need to periodically review and update our community guidelines. Changes made to our guidelines and the community will continue to reflect the core values of AARP and encourage positive interactions as we address the challenges of Americans 50 and older.

 

Where can I go to discuss open political topics with older Americans?

If you would like to discuss and debate open topic politics and government with other older Americans there are a many alternatives online. These include:

 

 

 

Will AARP remove other areas from the online community?

There are no plans to. We see the community as a place where people have can discussions about topics that are important to them and to engage with others. To ensure that AARP's interactive spaces are inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone, changes made to our guidelines and the community will continue to reflect the core values of AARP and encourage positive interactions as we address the challenges of Americans 50 and older.

 

 

Can I view my past posts from the politics area in the community?

No, the removal of the political area includes all of its content.

 

 

By removing the political area, isn't AARP censoring its members? What about freedom of speech?

What we are doing is creating spaces that are inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone. That way, people can feel free to discuss the topics that are important to them. The topics discussed in the community are serious. They affect people's lives in profound ways. They can stir up strong emotions. We should have spirited debates about all of them, but those debates should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based.

 

If I have a question related to politics, who can I contact?

You can view AARP's legislative priorities and activity on our Government Watch page or be sure to follow AARP Advocates on Facebook. You can also reach our Government Affairs office at 202-434-3750.

 

Can I still comment on political articles and topics on the AARP website?

Of course, however we encourage our community members to focus on topics that are specific to the AARP mission and those related challenges that face older Americans. Topics discussed and commented on within our communities – including healthcare, retirement, and Social Security – can have political dimensions, are serious, and can stir up strong emotions. We should have spirited debates about all of them, but those debates should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based. If a discussion veers off-topic into general political discussion or accusations, you will be cited. Please refer to our Community Guidelines and AARP Terms of Service.

 

I do not agree with this change, who can I contact?

You are free to provide feedback on any community matters to our Community Moderation team by emailing: community@aarp.org

 

Why weren't users asked if they wanted this change?

We have received a lot of feedback on the politics forum and it became clear to us that the increasingly partisan, offensive and uncivil tone required us to update our community standards for the benefit of everyone. We are continuing to ensure that AARP's interactive spaces are inviting, civil, and provide an important and valuable interactive experience for everyone. Changes made to our guidelines and the community will continue to reflect the core values of AARP and encourage positive interactions as we work together with you to address the challenges of Americans 50 and older.

 

If AARP is non-partisan why won't you allow your members to discuss politics? Isn't AARP political in that you lobby for issues/policies around Social Security and Medicare?

The topics discussed and commented on within our communities – including healthcare, retirement, and Social Security – can have political dimensions. They are serious and can stir up strong emotions. We should have spirited debates about all of them, but those debates should always be respectful, remain on topic, and fact based. If a discussion veers off-topic into general political discussion or accusations, you will be cited. Please refer to our Community Guidelines and AARP Terms of Service. You can view AARP's legislative priorities and activity on our Government Watch page or be sure to follow AARP Advocates on Facebook. You can also reach our Government Affairs office at 202-434-3750.

 

How do I cancel my account/membership?

We would be sorry to see you go. Just make sure you're fully aware of the benefits of your membership. If you still want to cancel, see this article on how to cancel your membership

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Honored Social Butterfly

@Centristsin2010 

Good questions. Seemed very rational. 
I would also say thank you to AARPsneed for listening.

And concerning posting, and the actions of other posters...
I also took exception to the proclamation, after the TOS change to be overbearing....”you must respect other posters whether you agree with them or not”. My world does not work like that...I am a respectful person, and believe that respect is earned, not given. When someone does not tell the truth or post the truth, how is that respectful behavior? Yet dishonesty, distortion of facts, using opinions as facts, and false accusations were allowed...somehow the truth and facts did not matter. There seemed to be more more concern about name calling a political figure...who called everyone names that stood up to him!

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Honored Social Butterfly

William said about Sneed, "I would also say thank you to Sneed for listening."

 

I completely agree!

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Honored Social Butterfly

AARP incorrectly diagnosed the problem, which was NOT strong, partisan political opinions. Come on, that's the whole point of political discussions. The problem was the Moderator, who did not properly understand his or her role. Almost everyone in the forum wanted strong moderation. What does that mean? It means PERSONAL ATTACKS against other forum members should never be tolerated. 

However, instead of concentrating solely on preventing the aforementioned personal attacks, the moderator regularly CENSORED free speech, frequently suspending members for nothing more than expressing  strong political opinions. He/She did that under the guise of "Hate Speech". He or she does not understand what hate speech is. Hate Speech is directed at the following groups: Racial, Religious, Gender and Ethnic groups. In addition, physical or violent threats are also considered hate speech. Political Groups do not enjoy the same protections as Religious, Racial, Ethnic, and Gender related groups.

Having a strong political opinion, such as Trump supporters are A,B,C, & D, is NOT hate speech. It is nothing more than one person's opinion. But the moderator, who didn't understand what I just explained, would delete your opinion and/or suspend you for expressing your thoughts (CENSORSHIP). As I stated above, that's the purpose of a political forum.

The problems in the Political Forum could have easily been corrected merely by replacing, or properly training the moderator, who needed to understand the difference between personal attacks and simply expressing a strong political opinion. 

Instead of correcting the problem, AARP took the easy way out, by closing the forum. For whatever reason, they were afraid of taking the necessary action, which would simply be the following. You can express whatever political opinion you have, as long as you don't attack other forum members or threaten an individual or a group.

 

 

 

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Honored Social Butterfly


@CriticalThinking wrote:

AARP incorrectly diagnosed the problem, which was NOT strong, partisan political opinions. Come on, that's the whole point of political discussions.

 

The problem was the Moderator, who did not properly understand his or her role.

 

Almost everyone in the forum wanted strong moderation. What does that mean? It means PERSONAL ATTACKS against other forum members should never be tolerated.

 

However, instead of concentrating solely on preventing the aforementioned personal attacks, the moderator regularly CENSORED free speech, frequently suspending members for nothing more than expressing  strong political opinions. He/She did that under the guise of "Hate Speech". He or she does not understand what hate speech is. Hate Speech is directed at the following groups: Racial, Religious, Gender and Ethnic groups. In addition, physical or violent threats are also considered hate speech. Political Groups do not enjoy the same protections as Religious, Racial, Ethnic, and Gender related groups.

 


@CriticalThinkinghas hit the nail on the head.

 

Without talking abut specific actions taken against me on the board, I will state that actions taken against me by one moderator have been reversed multiple times by the Moderator Team Leader.

 

I will be no more specific than that because then I would be discussing specific moderator actions.

 

Since @CriticalThinking was allowed to discuss moderator actions in a general sense; I am confirming that @CriticalThinking's analysis is absolutely correct.

 

It is this inability for the Moderation Team to be in agreement with itself which I BELIEVE

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Honored Social Butterfly


@CriticalThinking wrote:

AARP incorrectly diagnosed the problem, which was NOT strong, partisan political opinions. Come on, that's the whole point of political discussions. The problem was the Moderator, who did not properly understand his or her role. Almost everyone in the forum wanted strong moderation. What does that mean? It means PERSONAL ATTACKS against other forum members should never be tolerated. 

However, instead of concentrating solely on preventing the aforementioned personal attacks, the moderator regularly CENSORED free speech, frequently suspending members for nothing more than expressing  strong political opinions. He/She did that under the guise of "Hate Speech". He or she does not understand what hate speech is. Hate Speech is directed at the following groups: Racial, Religious, Gender and Ethnic groups. In addition, physical or violent threats are also considered hate speech. Political Groups do not enjoy the same protections as Religious, Racial, Ethnic, and Gender related groups.

Having a strong political opinion, such as Trump supporters are A,B,C, & D, is NOT hate speech. It is nothing more than one person's opinion. But the moderator, who didn't understand what I just explained, would delete your opinion and/or suspend you for expressing your thoughts (CENSORSHIP). As I stated above, that's the purpose of a political forum.

The problems in the Political Forum could have easily been corrected merely by replacing, or properly training the moderator, who needed to understand the difference between personal attacks and simply expressing a strong political opinion. 

Instead of correcting the problem, AARP took the easy way out, by closing the forum. For whatever reason, they were afraid of taking the necessary action, which would simply be the following. You can express whatever political opinion you have, as long as you don't attack other forum members or threaten an individual or a group.

 

Well said, CeeTee....good questions that deserve a response IMAHO.


 


If you routinely express intolerance, please consider the definition of "bigotry".
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Honored Social Butterfly

Centrist, good points. AARP put all of the blame on several forum members. I'm not saying they were blameless, because they weren't. But the basic cause of the problem was poor leadership, uninformed decisions, and disjointed organization from the Moderator.

Instead of ensuring forum members did not personally attack or threaten other members, the Moderator perceived his or her role as one that amounted to evaluating and censoring political opinions. How did that work out?

If one expressed a strong political opinion, such as  Trump or Biden supporters are X,Y, or Z, the moderator would often delete that political opinion and possibly suspend the author.

What crime did the forum member commit? He or She did nothing other than express a personal, political opinion, which is why we have a political forum. It was not hate speech, nor was it even remotely related to a personal attack against another forum member.

Unfortunately, the uninformed and untrained moderator would incorrectly and arbitrarily conclude your opinion is hate speech and suspend you. This happened so often, it ruined the forum. It was NOT the strong, vocal opinions of the forum members which caused so much divisiveness.

That's why I say AARP came to the wrong conclusion and took the wrong action. All they had to do was to replace the Moderator with someone who understands the appropriate role of moderation, which is NOT censorship. Or, they could have properly trained the Moderator. Why can't they see the obvious?

 

One other point, forum members were never allowed to discuss, find out why, and/or learn from the moderator. They were protected from criticism and would rarely, if ever, explain their actions. If we would have had an open forum/discussion with the Moderator, maybe we could have improved the forum? But strict rules, protecting the moderator, prevented what could have been a very helpful, open, and honest exchange of ideas and suggestions between the forum members and the moderator.

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