Stay safe legally, moderate your comments

I’ve always moderated comments on my blogs. I own the blogs, I’m an independent science journalist, no blog “network” safety net for me, so why wouldn’t I? I treat the comments section like a letters editor at a newspaper would. All legitimate comments are posted, always have been, but trolling, libellous or other garbage (spam, advertising etc) do not pass muster and are not up-moderated.

That’s not censorship, this is my blog, I run it, have done since 1999 (and before that I had other websites dating back to 1995). I’ve worked hard on my sites and I pay the hosting fees and try to keep the site shiny and fresh. If you want to post hateful nonsense, you can build your own site and post it there, feel free and see where it gets you.

I now feel somewhat vindicated that I never let the garbage on to my sites: Judges at the European Court have made the ludicrous decision to hold news sites and blogs legally responsible for all the comments that appear on their sites even if they remove those comments after a complaint. This means that any offended party could pursue a news organisation or blog for an allegedly defamatory comment made about them even after it has been removed from the website. More on the specifics here.

Moreover, as I understand it, in English law now if someone sues you for libel and you win, you still have to pay their legal fees…they say the law is an ass*, I wouldn’t go that far, just in case some judge sues…

*NB US readers: foolish and stubborn like a donkey, not round and fleshy like a butt.

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