Legal action on posts/threads

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
Our position and the actions we take when threatened with legal action need to be made clear. The reasons for this are:

1. We must be more transparent wherever possible about what is happening/has happened in cases where action is taken within posts/threads. I say ‘where possible’ as our lawyers will often advise us not to make any public comment as it is remarkably easy to make our position worse. I don’t like this and nor will you but we have to live with it.

2. There has been much speculation over the years about posts that have been mysteriously removed, bets taken as to how long certain threads or posts will last and comments made about us being in cahoots with the people making the complaints. It has been a conspiracy theorists paradise and frankly I can see why. We have not been as transparent as we should have been and there have been some inappropriate decisions made. But that’s the past, I’m setting the stall out today and, while you may not agree with the approach I’m taking, at least you’ll be clear what it is and can be sure we’ll stick to it.

3. The law governing internet content is extremely complex especially in the area of who is responsible for it. It seems that there is one test case that clarifies the position only to be contradicted in a higher court. As a result the question of responsibility is far from clear and we can no longer rely on being able to separate ourselves from it. Recent developments have made this whole area much more fluid, we must keep a watchful eye on these and adapt accordingly.

4. There have to be boundaries as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. The days of being able to post whatever you like with complete freedom are over. You now have a duty to think about what you are saying and how this might detract from the very intention behind your post. If you are trying to protect members from what is very clearly a scam then choosing your language can make all the difference. Let me be clear on this point, I support 100% any activity that does away with these people and brings their disgraceful actions to the public eye and in doing so helps put them out of business.

5. If you persist in using inflammatory language and making claims that cannot be backed up by some evidence then there will be a very real risk that your post will be altered or removed. This will be a great pity especially if the actual content and warning contained within was of some importance. Please spare me the protestations about free speech! I am not saying for one minute that we are going to embark on a blitz on posts of this nature but you will find more comments being made if appropriate. The last thing I want is for us to lose this position of being able to expose these people just because of the way we go about it.

6. Some of this stuff is obvious. I recall a thread not too long ago declaring one of the main spread betting firms to be a bunch of scam artists, fraudsters etc. The person making the post had experienced something negative and was using our pages to tell everyone how unhappy he was without giving the firm in question a chance to put it right. The thing ran on for some time and in the end the OP posted to the effect, ‘sorted’. So, they were no longer scammers or fraudsters because they had fixed the problem. By then the damage was done and this isn’t on. I’ll no longer tolerate our forums being used to air personal grievances unless there is clear evidence of attempts being made to resolve the situation. I’ll also expect the posts to be made sensibly and without the drama that has characterised posts of this nature in the past.

7. I am putting into place a clearly defined management process for this aspect of our operations. Roles and responsibilities will be clearly defined and communication with you an integral part of it. This communication will be about what is happening in general terms rather than specifics about the complaint as our advice is clearly not to do this. This may well look as if we are hiding behind things, we are not and I’ll just have to live with the impression this gives as I will not prejudice our case just for the sake of some dialogue.

8. I remember seeing a post a while back asking why we ‘fold like a cheap suit’ when other sites seem to leave things running and not be afraid of potential litigation. I have absolutely no idea if this is the case and certainly I’m not in a position to comment on the policies of other sites. I could speculate that they have deeper pockets than we do. It is also possible that their content has not come to the attention of the person or firm being talked about. I just can’t say and it is not that relevant as we have our policy and we’ll stick to it.

9. Finally I want to comment on the money side of this. I work to clearly defined budgets and spending this allocation on expensive legal advice is not the best way of enhancing our member experience. I would far rather be spending it on other things that add value and I will no longer be subsidising personal crusades. What I will do is let things run, moderated properly and if it goes ‘legal’ deal with the situation according to policy. This will mean defending our position and removing things that parties agree should be removed, communicating with you along the way.

I’m sorry this has been so long but there was some important stuff to cover and it is important to me that you understand where we are coming from and the rationale behind the decisions we make.

The end!
 

wackypete2

Legendary member
10,229 2,053
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the post. Two things I can appreciate are that legality of internet activities is a murky area and budget is a genuine concern. The result of how you balance them is what we members see and is the focus of this post. Better communication as you state is certainly valuable.

Most members don’t have much of an issue with removed posts and threads that obviously warrant it, from our point of view on this side of the forum. There have been and I suspect will continue to be post/threads removed even where there is clear evidence supporting the claims posted. If you are threatened with a lawsuit even though these claims are verified (ie: public filings such as bankruptcy, court decisions, injunctions, criminal convictions) then I suspect the “budget” argument will win out most often which would negate most of what you just posted. Worst, as you state you may be obliged to refrain from talking about the actions you took. The clear cut obvious threads should never be an issue since you can easily justify t2w's actions and communicate it.

It is not for any of us members to say what is best for t2w. I just don’t see how the “budget” argument loses out when it is threatened by a lawsuit. Of course, as you know, you will always have critics no matter what you do!

Just my 2 cents.

Peter
 

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the post. Two things I can appreciate are that legality of internet activities is a murky area and budget is a genuine concern. The result of how you balance them is what we members see and is the focus of this post. Better communication as you state is certainly valuable.

Most members don’t have much of an issue with removed posts and threads that obviously warrant it, from our point of view on this side of the forum. There have been and I suspect will continue to be post/threads removed even where there is clear evidence supporting the claims posted. If you are threatened with a lawsuit even though these claims are verified (ie: public filings such as bankruptcy, court decisions, injunctions, criminal convictions) then I suspect the “budget” argument will win out most often which would negate most of what you just posted. Worst, as you state you may be obliged to refrain from talking about the actions you took. The clear cut obvious threads should never be an issue since you can easily justify t2w's actions and communicate it.

It is not for any of us members to say what is best for t2w. I just don’t see how the “budget” argument loses out when it is threatened by a lawsuit. Of course, as you know, you will always have critics no matter what you do!

Just my 2 cents.

Peter

Hi Peter

Thanks as always for the sensible and considered response. I'll not comment yet on the points you have made as I'm sure there will be others coming along soon!

I hope all is well with you.

Steve
 

Hoggums

Senior member
2,176 878
The problem in the past has been that many posts or threads have been removed with no explanation why - hence the conspiracy theories start surfacing.

A simple post stating "Thread/posts XYZ have been removed because..." would stop the subsequent flaming of T2W and would help members determine what is appropriate and what is not.
 

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
The problem in the past has been that many posts or threads have been removed with no explanation why - hence the conspiracy theories start surfacing.

A simple post stating "Thread/posts XYZ have been removed because..." would stop the subsequent flaming of T2W and would help members determine what is appropriate and what is not.

Absolutely agree Hoggums, you might not always agree with the action taken but at least you'll know why. Plus we won't always get it 100% right so by communicating it and listening to comments it might help us sharpen the policy a bit more.

Some would argue that we should not make changes but I disagree, if we are not going to listen to members, why bother inviting the contribution?
 
Last edited:

the hare

Senior member
2,949 1,283
Some would argue that we should not make changes but I disagree, if we are not going to listen to members, why bother inviting the contribution?

I'd be very interested to know who might argue you shouldn't make changes !

As for your question, its not unknown for organizations to solicit feedback without having any intention of acting on it. I'd say the practice is quite widespread :LOL:

Personally I think many of the previous problems could have been overcome with a little more communication. Most people understand you operate under commercial constraints. In the past there was an underlying agenda to hide that fact which often had a tendency to backfire spectacularly at times. Thankfully (with the exception of a couple of staff and the moderating team who still to wake up and smell the coffee) everyone's a bit more grown up about it.

More communication is definitely a step in the right direction even if its only to tell people bad news.
 

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the post. Two things I can appreciate are that legality of internet activities is a murky area and budget is a genuine concern. The result of how you balance them is what we members see and is the focus of this post. Better communication as you state is certainly valuable.

Most members don’t have much of an issue with removed posts and threads that obviously warrant it, from our point of view on this side of the forum. There have been and I suspect will continue to be post/threads removed even where there is clear evidence supporting the claims posted. If you are threatened with a lawsuit even though these claims are verified (ie: public filings such as bankruptcy, court decisions, injunctions, criminal convictions) then I suspect the “budget” argument will win out most often which would negate most of what you just posted. Worst, as you state you may be obliged to refrain from talking about the actions you took. The clear cut obvious threads should never be an issue since you can easily justify t2w's actions and communicate it.

It is not for any of us members to say what is best for t2w. I just don’t see how the “budget” argument loses out when it is threatened by a lawsuit. Of course, as you know, you will always have critics no matter what you do!

Just my 2 cents.

Peter

Hi Peter

You make a very fair point but I really am hoping that in the majority of cases it will not come to this and I can take action that makes sense, and that can be communicated to the members.

One thing is for sure, there is plenty of scope to do better than we have done in the past. Future practice will no doubt tell me how this is going - and so will the members I expect!

Steve
 

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
I'd be very interested to know who might argue you shouldn't make changes !

As for your question, its not unknown for organizations to solicit feedback without having any intention of acting on it. I'd say the practice is quite widespread :LOL:

Personally I think many of the previous problems could have been overcome with a little more communication. Most people understand you operate under commercial constraints. In the past there was an underlying agenda to hide that fact which often had a tendency to backfire spectacularly at times. Thankfully (with the exception of a couple of staff and the moderating team who still to wake up and smell the coffee) everyone's a bit more grown up about it.

More communication is definitely a step in the right direction even if its only to tell people bad news.

Yes that's a fair point, it happens all the time I guess, a bit like the crap restaurant who ask for feedback then get even worse!

And you are right, communication is the key to so many problems, not just here but in most of what we do. So often the intent is not what actually comes out of the pen, the keyboard or the mouth as Mrs Anderton will testify in my own case!

Thanks again for the post.

Steve
 

judgeGuns

Newbie
1 1
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NVP

Legendary member
37,535 1,988
the only thing I would request .....(perhaps its in above) is that a full reason is given for the removal of the post when you click to it ..........at least we know then what is happening

cheers ...
N
 

neil

Legendary member
5,167 747
I wonder if some legal problems could be avoided if T2W stated on some/all threads that the opinion of the author of an article is not necessarily the opinion of T2W? or some such paragraph. (I have a feeling that if it was that easy then T2W owner(s) would have already thought of it?)
 

Steve

Well-known member
437 108
I wonder if some legal problems could be avoided if T2W stated on some/all threads that the opinion of the author of an article is not necessarily the opinion of T2W? or some such paragraph. (I have a feeling that if it was that easy then T2W owner(s) would have already thought of it?)

Thanks Neil. Easy and the law definately don't go together in my experience and if it were that simple I would be glad of it. The problem is that whatever is said, it is sitting on a privately owned site. Regardless of any disclaimers, anyone who is not happy with what they see will always head straight for who they see as responsible for the content still being viewable. In other words, the owner of the site.

The law in this area is unfolding literally by the week. It used to be the case that people could say much anything they wanted and then hide behind the cloak of internet anonimty. That is now changing and I have come across cases where the identification of the individual has been ordered by the courts.

All we can really do is deal with each situation as it arises and ensure that we protect ourselves and our members as best we can. In some cases this will mean making some changes that may well look as if we have 'folded' very quickly. This is rarely the case but because of confidentiality restrictions we can never say too much about it so it looks like we did, regardless of what went on behind the scenes.
 

Pat494

Legendary member
14,496 1,541
It is easy for the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction too imho. The posts can become so antiseptic that a lot of flavour and content are lost in the mix.

The legal "vultures" are always around unfortunately even if not visible and not usually known for their generosity of spirit if pickings might be reduced.
 
 
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