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Moderating a UK based review website - practical considerations

Moderating a UK based review website - practical considerations

Freedom of expression is held as the essential foundation of a democratic society and so forum and review website operators are often reluctant to censor their website and fear a chilling effect. Many operators operate their websites out of passion and with a strong belief in a specific cause.

Operators of online forums want to facilitate a discussion, some of which might not be favourable to corporate organisations or to certain individuals. Knowing what your rights are as a website operator is vitally important if you wish to successfully resist attempts to bully you by lawyers who act for those your users criticise. As an online forum operator, you clearly provide a platform for debate, enabling the public to impart information and ideas.

Case law has also given weight to the role the internet plays in enhancing the public’s access to news and facilitating the dissemination of information in general. Whilst as a forum operator you are unlikely to be liable for comments authored by third-parties, as discussed above, you are mostly likely  to want to avoid being teated as someone who facilitates wrongdoing; this leads to a more practical question of your responsibilities.

We suggest that you carefully balance your goals and aims in operating a certain type of website against the nature of the third-party comment when monitoring, for example, whether the comment is obviously unlawful, such as hate speech. Make a clear evaluation of any complaint you receive and insist that the complainant notify you appropriately and in a line with any legal requirements. In the UK there would usually be prescribed methods of notification of website operators which you should expect third parties to follow before you take any action to censor your website.

We offer a fixed fee consultation which is highly suitable for anyone who is planning to operate a review website or an online forum or who is already operating one and wishes to be certain about the legal requirements and obligations of both website operators in the UK and any third party who complaints about posts on the forum.

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