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?

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

Indeed. A certain car manufacturer have never threatened me with legal action or had posts deleted for saying their cars are shit.

Free speech doesn't work on sites like MN, amillion, no.

As explained above, there' s no reason we should expect it to, really.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 19:47:39

ooh, I would like to see it in action.
Do all the posts then get deleted?

eg, I sometimes see on here, posters complaining about certain companies that keep our electical goods functioning,certain companies that provide other sources of heating and cooking, and certain companies that help our tvs to work.
But I have yet to see a response from their PR or customer service departments.

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 19:50:41

To be cynical: free speech only works if nobody else hears it, nobody else acts upon it and nobody else is in a position to do anything about it.

Otherwise we are in a free and fair democracy.

Just be thankful we are in a country in which we are not randomly thrown in prison, tortured and killed.

Many people do not have the luxury of free speech.

The larger companies probably don't give a stuff about whinges on a website. Why would they? Those complaints aren't affecting their profits one bit.

No, the posts don't get deleted afaik.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Thu 14-Feb-13 19:57:39

It isn't speech, a million. It's publishing.

Snorbs Thu 14-Feb-13 20:00:36

In the UK we do not have free speech in the sense that you can make libelous statements with impunity.

Nor do we have free speech in the sense that person A can insist that person/organisation B publishes person A's potentially libelous statements (which is the situation here).

We do have free speech in the sense that if you want to walk down the street carrying a placard saying "Don't do business with EvilSharks Ltd because they'll lie to you, steal from you and poo in your handbag", then go right ahead.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 20:07:13

Didnt know people could do what you said in your 3rd paragraph Snorbs.

And yes TheDoctrine, I am forever muddling up free speech, defamation, slander etc.

Beer, I am confused[again] then. If it is not larger companies that are coming on MN to try and put the record straight, then I am confused as to who would.

greenhill Thu 14-Feb-13 20:08:24

snorbs the poo in your handbag comment made me do a SIOB and desperately do some pelvic floor exercises.

amillion, it depends whether they think it will affect their business significantly, I suppose.
If it would look better to come on here and be seen to try and put an individual's problem right, ignore or demand posts are taken down.

Snorbs Thu 14-Feb-13 21:42:21

You can hold a placard saying pretty much whatever you want. The Police won't stop you. Well, not unless a) they regard it as behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace or b) you're trying to do it in that ridiculous area around Parliament where you need a permit before you can hold a protest.

You might still subsequently find yourself on the receiving end of a slander/libel court case of course. If what you say is true and you can demonstrate it's true then that's a valid defence. There are other defences too. But the point is that you'd be taking personal responsibility for what you are claiming.

Free speech doesn't mean that you can make any allegation you want and there is no come-back on you. It doesn't work like that and I'm glad it doesn't. If someone starts posting letters round my neighbours houses saying "Snorbs Eats Kittens" then damn right I want some way to stop them repeating their lies.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 21:49:34

So, something like the Safecobs thread, presumably someone from Safecobs emailed MN.
Likewise, that school.

Possibly, amillion. Although as discussed upthread, it needn't be someone affiliated to a company etc who points out potentially actionable posts.

eminemmerdale Thu 14-Feb-13 22:09:45

as a very loose example, and not to out it, I wrote a thread about something last year I was very unhappy about, quite rightly, to do with something I was very disastisfied with, in order to get advice on how to proceed (following??!) The advice I received was excellent and I went ahead with what I decided to do, only to learn from the person I was dealing with that they knew all about my thread! Which was mad! Anyway, that's a sort of example..I think grin

Maryz Thu 14-Feb-13 22:52:29

Yes, exactly amillion. But on the other hand I have occasionally reported threads where I think that if the company saw it the shit might hit the fan - I can't remember the example now, but there was a really good reason for me doing it confused. I'm sure I'll remember in a bit. I also reported a gina ford thread once, and a MMcCann one, because I knew they would turn nasty and the quicker they went the better.

I have seen companies come on here - I think Comet (of all people) did it once, and the op had her problem sorted very quickly.

I don't think it's so likely now on Mumsnet, as most people who have a genuine grievance will take it to Facebook or Twitter - and the companies are on those like flies on shite.

I love your subtlety there emin; very good [approving]

grin

Do you think MN has had its day as a market force, then, Maryz?

I was thinking about that earlier, in light of this thread. Larger companies do seem to have given up on the heavyhanded challenges to issues thrown up by members and it is largely the smaller concerns that care.

dikkertjedap Thu 14-Feb-13 23:10:08

I expect that that must have happened amillionyears at least Lia's cutlets on Safecob seemed mightily pleased that the threads on safecobs were removed.

Maryz Thu 14-Feb-13 23:32:48

Gosh, no, I don't at all think it's had it's day - I think that as there are more and more members they will be watching us even more closely.

But I think the necessity to actually come on a thread as TescoMary [arf] and say "we have seen this and it is certainly not how we would like to react, so please op contact this email tomorrow and I will deal with you personally" as used to happen isn't so important.

Simply because everything nowadays is even more instant than mumsnet.

You can get an immediate response from Tesco Facebook or Twitter (apparently, I have no idea how either work, because I am an old gimmer).

Though I suppose in a way more members also means slight dilution of issues, possibly. In the old days of only a few hundred active members meant that if I (as a known poster) said I had a shit experience with a company, every single person on the site would see it. Now will hundreds of thousands of members, and some arriving only to spam or troll, a similar post might get missed.

If that makes sense at all.

I didn't see the Safecobs threads - for quite a while I thought we were talking about sweetcorn, not horses grin.

amillionyears Fri 15-Feb-13 07:52:18

I thought the school one was bread, so ignored it for about 3 months!

grin

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Feb-13 09:27:00

amillionyears

I thought the school one was bread, so ignored it for about 3 months!

grin

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Feb-13 09:33:56

Maryz

Gosh, no, I don't at all think it's had it's day - I think that as there are more and more members they will be watching us even more closely.

But I think the necessity to actually come on a thread as TescoMary [arf] and say "we have seen this and it is certainly not how we would like to react, so please op contact this email tomorrow and I will deal with you personally" as used to happen isn't so important.

Simply because everything nowadays is even more instant than mumsnet.

You can get an immediate response from Tesco Facebook or Twitter (apparently, I have no idea how either work, because I am an old gimmer).

Though I suppose in a way more members also means slight dilution of issues, possibly. In the old days of only a few hundred active members meant that if I (as a known poster) said I had a shit experience with a company, every single person on the site would see it. Now will hundreds of thousands of members, and some arriving only to spam or troll, a similar post might get missed.

If that makes sense at all.

I didn't see the Safecobs threads - for quite a while I thought we were talking about sweetcorn, not horses grin.

Morning. Just a couple of points that might help.

We actively discourage organisations from posting on MN, as we've found in the past that they tend to do it to promote themselves more than anything else.

For example, we had a poster called BigSupermarketAngie (not her real name), who, under the guise of helping out posters with their queries about said big supermarket was very forthcoming about her supermarket's current special offers...

However, if someone is mouthing off complaining about their terrible experience as a customer of Random Example Corporation and Random Example Corporation mail us and want to help sort out stuff for the person complaining, we offer to post up a statement on their behalf.

Also, if an organisation not thinking of anything even remotely connected with bread is repeatedly mailing us to allege posters are posting libellous messages, we do also suggest a statement from them might help clear the air and stem any suspicion that they might be trying to close any discussion of their organisation down.

Often, the organisation agrees to this, seeing the sense in engaging with MNers, rather than pressing for deletion. Sometimes, they don't...

Maryz Fri 15-Feb-13 09:34:22

I never saw the school thread at all. What was that about?

I mean, obvs a school, but how was it libellous, ffs? Most threads about schools seem to be general moaning about how they don't recognise what a genius the op's little darling is.

Maryz Fri 15-Feb-13 09:35:41

x-posted there Helen. Clear as mud, that.

In other words, if a big company is being precious and are afraid of mumsnetters they have a right to reply grin.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Feb-13 09:37:26

Maryz

x-posted there Helen. Clear as mud, that.

In other words, if a big company is being precious and are afraid of mumsnetters they have a right to reply grin.

No, everyone has the right to reply, big or small.

But they don't have the right to promote themselves all over the shop. We have ads for that...

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