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Removal of threads considered to be 'potentially libellous' ie somebody has complained

(81 Posts)
dikkertjedap Wed 13-Feb-13 10:25:58

To think that threads are being removed because they are 'potentially' libellous (thinking about the Safecobs thread) is very sad as it makes it very difficult for people to find proper information on the internet.

On Mumsnet you can say all kind of things about certain NHS hospitals, but if you say something about this unscrupulous horse trader the threads are being removed and more people may become a victim.

AIBU to think that before removing such a thread Mumsnet HQ should seek a legal opinion rather than what could be seen as pandering to the threats of unscrupulous individuals?

BigAudioDynamite Thu 14-Feb-13 17:28:16

Oh, I see. You didn't mean stuff that us plebs complain about!

I'm intrigued and mystified now....what kind of stuff does Mr (or Mrs! Tsk Tsk MNOlivia!) Hot Shot Lawyer complain about? And shouldn't he/she be busy hot-shifting, not reading mumsnet?

BigAudioDynamite Thu 14-Feb-13 17:29:03

I mean MNHelen

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 17:31:32

Sorry, I am more confused than before.[probably me being a bit thick].

If no one reports, than you are not liable.
That is, not us reporting or not a solicitor reporting.

But, if someone reports something, either a poster or a solicitor, or presumably anyone on the planet, once your attention has been drawn to it, then you are potentially liable?

So really, you dont want reports from anyone of anything possibly defamatory, because then you may have to do something.

Is that right?

Pixel Thu 14-Feb-13 17:39:46

So anyone in danger of being exposed as less than honest can just report a thread and have it pulled? That's handy for them.

I think what tends to happen is that certain people or organisations keep an eye on everything that refers to them on the internet, and spew out letters on anything they consider potentially libellous.

In order to be fair, MNHQ has to listen to us plebs as much as to noisy protective organisations, so they want us to look out for our own interests by reporting posts.

If we didn't then the only people who would have that kind of protection would be the ones who have press agencies to haunt the internet for them, protecting their (dubious) reputations.

Pandemoniaa Thu 14-Feb-13 17:44:20

Until quite recently, I used to be an administrator on a large and popular, sports related forum. We moderated it very lightly (pretty much like MN, to be honest) and also had a post reporting function. One of the pleasures of that particular forum is the way that subjects can go off into tangents and in the main, there was very little in the way of censorship beyond an intolerance of any sort of hate speech. Despite the popularity of the site, it attracted little in the way of outside control either.

However, over recent years, on those occasions when individual posts have come a little close to being potentially actionable, very shirty communications have been quick to arrive from Messrs. Sue, Grabbit & Runne and site administrators can't ignore them or reply with a simple "Piss Off". Sometimes the resultant censorship appears harsh but actually, so are the consequences now that it is well known that site owners/administrators AND individual contributors can be held liable (and expensively liable) for what goes onto the forum.

Reported posts are probably a bit of a red herring, tbh. It doesn't matter whether anyone reports them or not. You still can't condone actionable material being left on the site.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 17:47:46

But if no one reports it Pandemoniaa, and I mean anyone on the planet, then nothing happens does it?

Though I suppose in theory, MN is potentially liable for ever more?

TheLoneRanger Thu 14-Feb-13 17:48:06

I know this might seem like a technicality, but I'm curious: if I libelled someone, and no-one reported it, does that mean that I am solely responsible, as the person who posted it, and MNHQ are not liable at all?

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Feb-13 17:48:53

amillionyears

Sorry, I am more confused than before.[probably me being a bit thick].

If no one reports, than you are not liable.
That is, not us reporting or not a solicitor reporting.

But, if someone reports something, either a poster or a solicitor, or presumably anyone on the planet, once your attention has been drawn to it, then you are potentially liable?

So really, you dont want reports from anyone of anything possibly defamatory, because then you may have to do something.

Is that right?

No quite, amillionyears. What we're saying is, if doesn't matter if no one on the boards reports something potentially libellous. It may still be deleted by us, because we may be notified of the potential libel by email instead.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Feb-13 17:50:47

If it's ok with everyone, I'm going to move this thread to Site Stuff. It's kinda where it belongs.

Snorbs Thu 14-Feb-13 18:04:54

Pixel if you are dissatisfied with the way MN tries to keep itself out of court feel free to set up your own forum. You can then post what you want and moderate it as you feel is appropriate.

Maryz Thu 14-Feb-13 18:14:31

My understanding is that they can't be sued fur libel by Mr BigShot and his client until they have given mn a warning that there is libellous material on the site.

Once they have given that warning, however, the onus is on mnhq to remove it pdq. As long as mnhq do that, it isn't worth suing, as mnhq would use as their defense "we didn't know it was there, we dealt will it immediately when it was brought to our attention".

And yes, that does mean that companies with enough money to have MrBS and his friends watch every thread on ever talkboard and every blog on the internet can close down any negative publicity pdq. But there isn't anything mn can do about that. That' life - loadsamoney companies can skew public opinion. They've been doing it via advertising for years.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 18:19:21

I think there is a poster who may be patrolling the boards as Maryz described.

Maryz Thu 14-Feb-13 19:19:37

I'm sure there is more than one amillion.

I'm sure that most of the big companies watch boards like this, and look out for their own names.

I mean you only have to see how quickly J.o.h.n.h.e.m.ming appears on the adoption boards every time his name is mentioned to see how easy it is for people to have some sort of script updating them any time they are mentions.

I remember a thread where everyone suggested referring to big companies in strange ways - e.g. motherfuckingcare and tresco and shitsbury's - there were some very funny suggestions, to avoid them knowing we were talking about them.

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 19:25:24

amillion why would it be so bad for posters to report threads to MNHQ to protect their favourite site from potential closure?

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 19:28:35

I havent a clue what you are talking about greenhill.

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 19:31:11

Amillion I mean reporting threads that could be libellous, rather than posting potentially libellous comments!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 19:33:31

Sorry, still dont understand.

Beer, I have never seen that. Didnt know it happened at all.
How do you know? Do they say they are from company x?

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 19:36:53

YY, beertricks most companies have cuttings companies that collect any statements relating to their names, so even if they do not see the statement themselves, it will be collected on their behalf. And acted upon.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 19:38:59

So if I write a T supermarket, a M burger chain, and S swimwear chain, that would alert the companies?

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 19:40:42

amillion I suppose it would depend on how sensitive their cutting service was, how it was patrolled and how sensitive they were to any criticism.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 19:43:35

So there is far from free speech . Though I have worked out free speech doesnt really exist at all.

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