Important court ruling: Web site owners can’t be sued for comments

Tendenci is built to facilitate communication, human connections and the sharing of ideas.  Tools like comments, ratings and TrackBacks can open up important dialog between your organization, your members and the general public.

A recent ruling by the California Supreme Court declared that Web site owners cannot be for sued libelous or defamatory comments written by site visitors.  Basically, if a discussion on your Web site gets heated, only the authors of those comments are held accountable.  (read more about the ruling here)

This is great news for organizations who want to keep an open, honest dialog going but also want to be in the clear legally.  Opposing points of view and a little heated discussion can be healthy,
but if things get out of hand and start veering towards libel it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Ways to manage your site’s comments:

  1. Require a site administrator to approve a comment before it is posted live to your site
  2. Periodically check up on a comment thread and delete any comments that run against your organization’s online etiquette

Long story short – use your best judgment and contact your organization’s legal department for your specific situation, but definitely encourage your site visitors to take part in the conversation.

Thanks to Gulo Solutions Blog for the heads up on this!

One Reply to “Important court ruling: Web site owners can’t be sued for comments”

  1. If someone in control of a Web site takes an action to review and approve a post, I don’t see how his or her level of responsibility is any different than a newspaper editor who is in charge of the letters to the editor page. That editor would be careful not to publish a letter that could be libelous. I can understand that a forum that is not refereed would be protected as simply a mechanism through which communication flows (similar to the telephone company not being liable for what is said over a telephone), but the second a gatekeeper gets involved and actively approves a post, it would seem reasonable that the gatekeeper shoulders some responsibility.

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