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Sunday Times story today about Mumsnet having to reveal posters' names

(115 Posts)
BIWI Sun 29-Jan-17 08:46:00

Without going into specific details, obviously, there's clearly a huge issue here about libel/responsibility for our posts.

I wonder if it would be a good idea for MNHQ to reiterate the current situation, so that people appreciate what they shouldn't (and what they can) post?

CouchSwede Sun 29-Jan-17 08:48:01

Sorry I'm confused. Do you have a link? Why 'obviously' not give details confused

BIWI Sun 29-Jan-17 08:50:34

It's on the Sunday Times/Times website, so behind a paywall.

And I don't want to go into the details of the story because that's not the point. The point is that Mumsnet has been taken to court and made to reveal the identity of two posters, because of how they posted on a particular issue.

It doesn't actually matter what the issue is (hence not linking to the story), it's the principle and the legal aspect of how and what we post (and what we shouldn't) that's important.

CouchSwede Sun 29-Jan-17 08:50:50

Ah I've found it. I think a brief summary of the issue would make your post a lot clearer.

BIWI Sun 29-Jan-17 08:51:09

Well hopefully my last post explains things a bit more!

CouchSwede Sun 29-Jan-17 08:51:51

It's not behind a paywall. But you obviously don't realise that your initial post gave no info whatsoever!

CouchSwede Sun 29-Jan-17 08:52:16

We're cross-posting like mad here grin

GinIsIn Sun 29-Jan-17 08:54:08

This really doesn't make much sense without info. If they were posting on a criminal matter or libellously then of course MN should reveal their details. If they were discussing cake recipes and the journalist just wanted to know, then no they shouldn't reveal their details. It's entirely about context, isn't it?

GinIsIn Sun 29-Jan-17 08:56:11

Ok, I found the article you meant - it does seem like they committed libel, in which case of course MN should divulge their details.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Sun 29-Jan-17 08:58:49

If someone commits a criminal offence I have no issue with Mumsnet complying with the law and providing the police with their names.

Any more than Twitter have where people have had death threats for challenging Brexit in the courts, having the temerity to prosecute a footballer for rape etc etc.

DonkeyOaty Sun 29-Jan-17 09:12:01

Ah yea BIWI I see your point. I am not familiar with the thread in question so don't know what was posted. Treading carefully here ofc.

ActuallyThatsSUPREMECommander Sun 29-Jan-17 09:17:03

This is the start of the story
www.thetimes.co.uk/article/surgeon-unmasks-critics-on-mumsnet-k7ch3jhwn
Libel is still libel even when you use a false name.

TatianaLarina Sun 29-Jan-17 09:21:20

The little shit. So you're not allowed to say you're not happy with your surgery?

Powergower Sun 29-Jan-17 09:21:37

Blimey. I do think mumsnet should have clear guidelines relating to what kind of posts could get you outed. It's a grey area and most posters won't know when they've crossed the line into libel.

EdithWeston Sun 29-Jan-17 09:23:24

I'm not sure why this is news.

MN has been here before - it's totally normal that when someone thinks posts are libellous their representatives contact the site and then either the site provides details of the posters or the comments are deleted.

@TalkinPeace is a poster who knows about this (as it happened to us and others about 3 years ago)

ScarlettDarling Sun 29-Jan-17 09:24:21

Surely people understand they are responsible for the comments they make? If people have made libellous comments on a public forum then they can't expect to hide behind anonymous usernames.

PossumInAPearTree Sun 29-Jan-17 09:27:56

It's possible to sign up here with false details using a yahoo email also with false details. Though I'm sure you could still be tracked via IP address if it's serious?

PossumInAPearTree Sun 29-Jan-17 09:29:58

Did they say they were unhappy with their surgery which I'd have thought is OK. Or did they say he was a maverick cowboy which isn't? Big difference.

SoupDragon Sun 29-Jan-17 09:31:29

I thought MN had made it clear that,if approached by an aggrieved third party, they would give the poster the option to have the post removed or they would have to divulge any personal identifying information held on that poster.

meditrina Sun 29-Jan-17 09:32:18

MN can't 'out' you if they don't know who you are.

And any post about which someone starts down the legal libel route will include a request for the posters details. When you are publishing globally, which is what you do every time you post, it is up to the poster to defend it (in court if necessary) or the comments to be removed.

What I can't understand is why The a Times have published it. It seems unfortunate for the person concerned as - in the short term at least - it has drawn considerably more attention (their readership and this thread), though in the longer run it must have some other importance.

EdithWeston Sun 29-Jan-17 09:34:01

"I thought MN had made it clear that,if approached by an aggrieved third party, they would give the poster the option to have the post removed or they would have to divulge any personal identifying information held on that poster."

Yes, I think this is the normal practice too.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Sun 29-Jan-17 09:35:29

You can see a small number of articles on The Times and The Sunday Times websites for nothing if you sign up to their emails. Here's the link for anyone who can follow it: www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/surgeon-unmasks-critics-on-mumsnet-k7ch3jhwn

For those who can't, the courts have ordered Mumsnet to co-operate with a cosmetic surgeon who believes he has been defamed on this site.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the laws on defamation have changed. What has changed is that it is now much easier to criticise someone and reach a huge audience in seconds, and once it's on the web it's there forever.

The defence to defamation is and always has been that what you said was true. It's not illegal to say something about another person that damages their reputation if it is true. (Proving that is of course not always easy.)

So when posting on Mumsnet or anywhere else, all you have to do is make sure you only post stuff that you know 100% is true or that is fair comment. I can say that Trump is a sex pest because he's admitted as much on the record. It's defamatory but it's true. If I said the same thing about someone else where there was no evidence, I just had a funny feeling about them, that would be defamatory and probably not true, so I could be taken to the cleaners.

Soubriquet Sun 29-Jan-17 09:39:14

I wonder what they said.... surely if you're unhappy with your surgery you should be able to complain about it

MiladyThesaurus Sun 29-Jan-17 09:39:24

As far as I can tell (given I can only see the start of the article) the guy hasn't actually successfully sued for libel yet so we don't actually know that he had been libelled. He's just managed to make MN give the names so he can sue.

So we don't know he's be libelled at all, just that he believes he has. It's not the same thing.

meditrina Sun 29-Jan-17 09:42:50

Agree Gasp0de it hasn't changed, and holding the poster to account, or the publisher if the comment remains without the poster stepping up and owning it, is normal practice.

People forget, I think, that MN is a publication (not a chat to your mates).

(And TreadSoftly at this stage, no-one knows whether a crime was committed, we simply know that an accusation has been made and ordinary first steps of the legal route taken).

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