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Forum Legalities

Are webmasters liable for forum postings?

   
11:23 pm on Jun 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Hi Folks

Given that posters in forums are usually anonymous, is the webmaster legally responsible for postings which may be considered slanderous?

If, for example, I were to post a message on this forum stating that "fictionalsite.com rips you off", and "fictional site" asked for the posting to be removed, where would he stand if you refused?

11:34 pm on Jun 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Just finished reading this.

[webmasterworld.com...]

12:03 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



That's what "terms of service" (aka. disclaimers) are for :))
12:08 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Here's another one to read.
[wired.com...]

Fora are not responsibile for posts...in a nustshell.

9:27 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks folks!

Although I am a great believer in "freedom of speech", I don't believe it should be allowed anonymously.

Surely, it would make more sense if Forums were responsible for posts where posters were unidentifiable.

In theory there is nothing to stop a business starting a campaign against a competitor, using 4 or 5 different anonymous accounts.

It doesn't take much to give a company a bad reputation and seems ridiculous that posters are able to lie to a potentially huge audience with no repercussions!

Unbelievable!

:) I'm a happy chap really!

10:01 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Surely, it would make more sense if Forums were responsible for posts where posters were unidentifiable.

A forum generally takes on the responsibility of policing posts and preventing flaming and defamatory comments. Some will take on a much stronger approach than others. The professional ones such WW will not tolerate it.

The legal responsibility is a different matter. The forum is not responsible for any action taken as a result of an individuals' post.

The very nature of non pre-moderated fora is that posts are read or scrutinised after being published. If they were forced to be read and edited before publication no forum would exist the way they do now.

10:27 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The very nature of non pre-moderated fora is that posts are read or scrutinised after being published. If they were forced to be read and edited before publication no forum would exist the way they do now.

I agree and certainly would not expect a forum to be pre-moderated. Remember, I am only referring to anonymous posts.

I would think that the following would be in order:

request to forum for an anonymous defamatory post to be removed
Legal action of not complied!

Perhaps a better approach would be to disallow hotmail type accounts and to have email confirmation type subscriptions to forums. This would remove the anonymitty (spelt wrong of course!) aspect of forums and therefore remove the problem.

My point is, that the webmaster should be responsible for editting posts unless they have forced users to give trackable details. They should then be responsible for passing on these details to the injured parties.

It is a shame that all fori (?) are not moderated as professionally as this one. Well done guys!

11:34 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



In theory there is nothing to stop a business starting a campaign against a competitor, using 4 or 5 different anonymous accounts.

It doesn't take much to give a company a bad reputation[Ö]

Maybe iím unexperienced here, but is this a common practice? Itís surely possible to start a disparagement campaign against your competitor, but why would you do it, canít you beat them being fair? This would be completely unethical.

I still believe in professional ethics.

11:42 am on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The vast majority of us do play fair. 'Do as you would be done by'

The benchmark of where ethics and morality move into sharp practice and dirty tricks varies upon who you are. :)

An innocent post can turn into a flaming session which can turn into personal conflict which can turn into professional abuse which can turn into childish pranks which can turn into out and out revenge.

It shouldn't happen but it does.