WordPress.com and Libel (thank you to @rantsfromron)

Great news (for a change) bloggers!

Suffice it to say that very few UK-based disability campaigners are likely to forget that the Carerwatch discussion forum was shut down by its hosting service after French IT firm Atos had a  hissyfit  & accused CW of libel – over of a mere HYPERLINK.

The brilliant Ron Graves of http://ronsrants.wordpress.com queried WordPress.com (which also hosts TCC) about their strategy and process in dealing with accusations of libel on the part of blogs hosted on their servers.

We greatly respect our users’ rights to free speech, and unless we receive a valid court order requiring content to be removed or find that it clearly violates our Terms of Service, we will allow it to remain. We like to leave any judgments of content (in terms of defamation and the like) to the courts.

Furthermore, if a court order is received, and content is required to be removed, you will absolutely have the chance to remove said content and continue publishing on our service.

Source: Atos, Allegations of Libel, and WordPress…

While I freely admit that I am generally biased in favour of WordPress.com and it’s Open-Source self-hosting CMS/blogging package as a web developer; I heartily applaud their balanced and professional approach in dealing with potentially contentious matters. As Carerwatch’s experience with their host demonstrates, not all services act with such consideration.

As anyone who follows me can expect, I still stand by the Atos Communications Strategy I published last month. Ron also makes a very important point which many disability campaigners still continue to ignore to their detriment.

Bear in mind, though, that if you recklessly, or carelessly,** set out to libel someone, as has actually happened with Atos, and they go to law, you’re screwed. And no, I don’t mean CarerWatch – that was just staggeringly gutless on the part of their hosting service.

Whatever the motivation, grab the Atos bull and you’ll likely feel the sharp edge of  their horns. It’s not often that they get it completely wrong as was done with CW, but woe betides those who give them enough reason to play the victim to the point of being right in a court of law.

UPDATE:

It didn’t take long for me to get a sharp contradictory comment about WP.com on Twitter. Bottom line: There are risks with *any* service that you don’t personally own and run yourself.  There is no complete to freedom of speech anywhere in the world and least of all on the internet. Even if the opposite was true, throwing down defamatory gauntlets one cannot afford to pick up and run with is counter-productive.

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