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Today's Date: 24 July 2014
Last Updated: 24 July 2014 13:16:17 EST
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Online poll: Most want libel standards for social media/online forums

Only a small percentage of the respondents to last week’s cayCompass.com online poll believe social media and online forum sites should not be held to the same libel standards as traditional media. 

Of the 449 total respondents, the largest segment of them – 244 people or 54.3 per cent – thought social media and Internet forum postings should be held to the same standard as traditional media in all cases.  

“It should be much easier to take action or have a press complaints body to complain to against some of the libelous and slanderous comments posted on some of these forums, including the media,” said one person. “Your newspaper used to do a good job of moderating such comments, but of late it has gone the route of its competitors.” 

“Why encourage people to stretch the truth – a.k.a. lie – and not be held accountable?” asked someone else. 

“Absolutely!” said another person. 

Another 100 respondents – 22.3 per cent – said social media and online forums should be held to the same libel standards as traditional media only in cases where an inaccurate posting was defamatory to an individual or business. 

“It’s one thing to spout lies, but it’s something else if the lies falsely damage someone else’s reputation or hurt someone’s business,” said one respondent.  

“Freedom of speech is not absolute,” said someone else. “Like every freedom, it comes with responsibility, ergo people shouldn’t post incorrect information because they had a bad day, or are angry with an individual or business. I am not talking about being disrespectful to politicians, like not referring to them as ‘honourable’, but something that is completely untrue. Once information is out there, it is out there, so if people are going to post ... incorrect damaging info, then they should be sued.” 

Thirty people – 6.7 per cent – thought that social media and online forums should be held to the same libel standards as traditional media only in cases where an inaccurate posting defamed an individual and 19 respondents – 4.2 per cent – responded ‘I don’t know’ to the question. 

“I am not certain, as I do not keep up to date with social media,” said one person. 

Only 56 people – 12.5 per cent – thought social media and Internet forum postings should not be held to the same libel standards as traditional media in any circumstance.  

“I can open an account in any name I want,” noted one person.  

“A comment or opinion that was intended to be shared between ‘friends’ and not made public, should not be re-posted or taken out of context,” said someone else. 

“I think social media should honour freedom of speech because it is not a news service, but rather people speaking their minds,” said another person. “However, people should be held liable for what they type just like they are liable for what they say.” 

“Where does freedom of speech come into all this mix?” asked one respondent. “Whether the person posts inaccurate or accurate info, they should have the freedom to say as they wish.”  

“It’s the Internet; anything goes!” commented someone else. 

 

Next week’s poll question  

What do you think the next government’s first order of business should be? 

Deal with the rollover policy issue 

Deal with the cruise berthing dock issue 

Deal with the landfill issue 

Deal with the airport redevelopment issue 

Other [write in comments] 

 
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