The main stream media continue to struggle to make a living, and from a fellow Raccoonteur comes the extraordinary tale of the Daily Mail’s latest cost cutting exercise.
They have decided to stop moderating comments on their on-line sites.
Now, professional moderation is an alarmingly expensive business and there have been some tasty enterprises built on the back of demand by government sites such as the various NHS web sites, for 24 hour moderation to stop them disappearing under an avalanche of libel or hate mail.
The 1996 Defamation Act says that if a website operator has no knowledge of the contents of a forum or isn’t acting as an editor, as long as they take reasonable care when alerted to a defamatory statement to take it down, they’re in the clear. That doesn’t mean that you can just ignore your web site and let the commentators run riot with their (ill)-considered thoughts, contrary to popular opinion, for that could mean that a court considers you to have been irresponsible and negligent, but the truth is that no-one actually knows the ‘off side rules’ for the game of comment moderation – and the plethora of out-of-court-settlements suggests that no-one is particularly keen to be the first to find out either.
The Daily Mail are going to rely on readers comments to alert them to libelous or racist/sexist posts – which pre-supposes that the public are aware of what is libelous………no doubt the obvious Lord Mandelson is a *** ****** **** comments will be speedily reported and removed, but there are more subtle libels than that………..I give it a week before the first Carter-Ruck writ hits the fan.
In the meantime – fill yer boots. Opportunity abounds.
- First Class posts on Thursday Letters From A Tory
- August 13, 2009 at 9:55 pm