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toryfail - why moderation might be a good idea

26 March 2010

This week the Conservative Party launched the cash-gordon.com website, aimed at highlighting the Labour Party’s funding links to Charlie Whelan’s Unite union.

Unfortunately, basic technical errors and the inclusion of a live Twitter feed, led to the site being bombarded with abusive messages and colourful language.

Publishers, including webhosts and hosts of forum boards, can be held liable for the statements they publish, including liability in defamation.

In practice, once webhosts are notified by an aggrieved party that they are, unbeknownst to them, hosting alleged defamatory content, the content is removed.

However, for a high profile website with a live feed such as this one, it would be all too easy to have material widely disseminated before the publisher is even aware of it. By blindly republishing tweets, the Conservative Party has left itself open to such complaints.

Another new media tactic used by the website encourages site users to bombard Charlie Whelan with tweets. This could constitute harassment, for which the Conservative Party could potentially end up liable.

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