When would you remove a post ?

You make a post. It’s a legitimate post that makes up nothing, does not libel or defame any more than a mainstream publication, it does not violate any TOS and is legally unactionable.. You are asked by either the person you name, the company you name or people close to those to remove the post.
Under what circumstances would you do so ? And why ?

Edit: here’s why I’m asking.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about a failed rape prosecution and I commented on what happened. I used the name of the man involved as the post title and as of right now, it’s #1 on google if you search for his name (12 of the first 20 are concerned with the same event). I suppose ‘blogging responsibility’ comes into this, but I see that entry as being a legitimate commentary on an event I read in the news. We all read things in the news and we all take viewpoints from that information. I made my viewpoint crystal clear. However, that post has – naturally I suppose – attracted a few comments from friends of the person concerned. They – naturally – protest his innocence. In one case one of his stupider friends named the girl. One commenter even says the girl must be lying because she is a drama student! I’m fairly sure they would like that post to be deleted (which would mean that The Guardian would take top spot – not a completely different view and hardly one for the CV). I have also had 2 emails asking that I reword or change that post. So should I ?
A very very small part of me says I should. It says that he messed up, has paid with upset, worry, trauma, has to rebuild his reputation etc and that a post like mine isn’t going to help him. I should let bygones be bygones. But that’s a small part. Most of me thinks it should stay – it was a legitimate post, the events that lead up to the alleged event did occur, that certain facts I mentioned were just that – facts, that I find his actions as reported horrendous, that I do think he should pay a price (but what price says the small voice ? When is enough enough ? Who am I to judge ?). There is also the fact that the girl has not commented and if someone did how would I know it was indeed her ? Why should she have to revoke her right to anonymity to say that she wants those facts to be widely publicised ?
I find it strange that I am questioning my own post, and especially a post that I still think is valid. It’s a post that can be easily attacked to go away – I cannot see these same people having a go at the national newspapers and asking they redress the balance. I have only – as far I can remember – deleted 1 post from this site deliberately, and that post will most certainly return at a later date. Should I let these few people get under my skin ? Was I too forthright in my views on that day ? I know that I do write as I think / feel at times but I’m not about to start apologising for how I blog and I sure as hell don’t want to change. The larger opinion in me says if he had not done anything then he would not have been in the news so neither I nor others would never have heard of him.

And given the comments that are hitting that post right now …..

For the record – I did not say he was guilty.

16 thoughts on “When would you remove a post ?

  1. I never erase posts. Maybe if I’d had a dialogue with whoever was involved I might munge email addresses/IP addresses, but I wouldn’t erase something. Even if I was completely wrong I wouldn’t. I’d strike the orginal content out and write an explanation why.

    I strongly disagree with the practice of deleting posts.

  2. I also disagree with deleting posts. The time I mentioned was a business decision though – and this is certainly not that. As for the comments, if there had been a coherent message maybe I would listen, but there is not. I can see either one person at a Uni computer tapping this stuff out or a group of ‘friends’ doing this. I actually think that what they are doing is making the viewing of that post even worse – and that is something in the control of not just them but their ‘friend’. If he is in on this, he is making another mistake.

  3. That’s a hard call, particularly because of the nature of the accusation (rape). It could be that this guy did what he’s accused of; it could just as believably be true that he didn’t. Looks like both parties are young, had been drinking, and are very likely to be stupid as a result of both of those qualifiers. We’ll never know the ‘truth’.

    The larger opinion in me says if he had not done anything then he would not have been in the news so neither I nor others would never have heard of him.

    But that’s not always true, is it? Of course, he did ‘something’, but that doesn’t mean that the fact that the media prints it, or the way they present it, makes it ‘true’ in the sense that he’s guilty of what he’s accused of. It’s true that he was at a party, he accompanied a drunk(ish)girl away from the party, and they had sex. The girl later accused him of rape; he said it was consensual. That’s all any of ‘us’ (including his friends) can be reasonably sure of.

    Of course, you’re not a news agency and are entitled to your opinions, and certainly have the means and ability to express them. However, in this case, since the (blog) post in question does cast aspersions (if not a guilty verdict) on the young man’s character, is apparently easily found in Google, and could potentially do harm to a person whose guilt is reasonably questionable, I’d remove it (make it publicly inaccessible). [This certainly shouldn’t apply to aspersions cast upon the notorious T.O.M., however. ;)] But that’s just because I dislike hurting people’s feelings, even if I mean what I said; for me, some things are better left unexpressed even if I think they’re true, or at least true of what I think/believe. I’m not convinced you, Mark, have any compelling moral/ethical reason to remove the post; it’s your opinion, and expressed as such.

    At any rate, the question of deleting/editing posts in a blog is an interesting one. Why are blog posts so sancrosanct? I’ve seen this sentiment from a number of bloggers, and I find it puzzling, as if to do so would be to damage their ‘journalistic integrity’ or their artistic vision or some such. Does one never relate inaccurate/false information? Does a blogger have any responsibility to make corrections as he/she becomes aware of them? Is there such a thing as responsibility in opinion-blogging?

  4. ‘Journalistic integrity’ is a sack of crap that belongs alongside the ‘Blogging will change the world’ ethos. My posts stay because they’re my opinion, feeling or thought about a particular thing at a particular time. I have the strength of character to stand behind what I say no matter what. That’s not a blogging thing … that’s a personality thing. You can’t take things back in the real world, although you can pretend it never happened. I have no respect for people like that. I do have respect for people who have enough personal integrity not to edit their content, or if they do (because you do need to sometimes) to leave no doubt as to what happened.

    There are real people behind these sites. Cena substitute ‘posts’ for ‘conversations’ and ‘Blogger’ for ‘person’ as the context in that last paragraph … then the answer is obvious.

  5. Certainty: True enough, but it went as high as it did for a reason – it convinced enough people. (What is amusing is that in a comment someone says that as they did Journalism at Uni they know it’s not always true. Wonder what sort of Journo they will make ?)
    Casting aspertions ….yes I am. But that is not illegal, immoral or anything else that could get me sanctioned in anyway.
    Google. I do nothing for SEO. If I were seeking out high positions then maybe I could be found guilty of seeking to ‘cast aspersions’ from some lofty height. I did not. As far as I am concerned, I blogged it. I’m not the only one either if you go through google’s results – I just happen to be at the top.

    Will I remove the post ?
    I’ll be honest – I do not know. If all I have is one side of the story, should I act on that ? Is a flood of comments going to make me change my mind ? Not by a long way – it will simply reinforce my view. (Note that so far I have not named the man again here)

    Deleting posts.
    Blogging is the freedom of expression is it not ? So to alter that then that freedom is being compromised ? To alter something you said because pressure is brought to bear is a form of oppression isn’t it ?

    Blogging: “It’s my view and I’m entitled to it”

  6. That’s the thing, gpshewan, I don’t think the answer IS obvious. (And of course I’m aware there are ‘real people’ behind blogs. :)) Not only is the answer not obvious, replacing words doesn’t clarify anything, and in fact, obfuscates the issue.

    Conversations in ‘real life’ are not the same as blog posts, which theoretically may be seen by thousands or millions of people around the world. If you and I get into a disagreement in person, what we say/accuse one another of is known only to us; absent mitigating circumstances, any ‘harm’ (aside from hurt feelings) is minimal. Blog posts, because they are ‘broadcast’internationally and archived in a variety of ways, potentially have the power to do much more harm, over a longer period of time, than any RL conversation.

    Why does never backing down from one’s statement = strength of character? This isn’t meant as an attack on you, gpshewan, but personally I think that it frequently takes more strength to know when it is both right and appropriate to ‘back down’, or even, god forbid, apologize for past statements/actions.

    All opinions are not created equal. Some opinions (in my opinion) carry more weight because they are backed up with facts or are well-thought out, even if I disagree with the premise. Some opinions are worth nothing because they have neither, even if I happen to agree with the general sentiment expressed. That doesn’t mean you don’t have right to have an opinion, of course. But when did it become necessary and ‘proof of character’ to express every damn thought, no matter how hurtful and/or inaccurate, that crosses one’s mind?

  7. One last comment and then I have to stop using Mark’ site to procrastinate. :)

    Blogging is the freedom of expression is it not ? So to alter that then that freedom is being compromised ? To alter something you said because pressure is brought to bear is a form of oppression isn’t it ?

    Yes, BUT. Freedom of expression (as a constitutional guarantee) is NOT unlimited freedom. I’ve always been told that ‘my rights end where your rights begin’. My right to free expression ends when it infringes upon your right to not be unfairly/unjustly/inaccurately accused of something. If I write on a blog, “Mark is a no-good SOB who abuses animals, burns down houses, and beats old ladies’, the freedom of speech thing ain’t gonna be any defense if Mark decides to sue me for libel, nor should it be.

    And changing statements due to outside pressure = oppression? Possibly. But most people seem to think it’s okay in certain ways and not in others (usually when they feel that they’re being pressured, it’s oppressive. When they’re pressuring someone else, it’s for their own good. ;))

    For example: enormous societal pressure to not use words like ‘nigger’, ‘kike’, ‘chink’, etc. Am I being oppressed because I am not free to use those words in conversation (at least, not in mainstream society)? Should I be free to use those words if I feel like it? Should ‘hate speech’ exist as a legal concept, punishable by law? I can go to jail if I run up to a black person and call them a nigger. Is that right? What right of theirs have I violated by calling them a name? There’s no constitutional right to not have one’s feelings hurt, after all, or to not be offended.

    Genuinely curious about what others think about this idea of ‘freedom of speech’ and what it really means.

  8. Cena – I blog in a very immediate way. This is apparent I would think to whoever reads what I write. I sometimes do say things that if I remembered and looked back I might feel differently about – but as my recall is poor and I write about anything and everything I don’t look back. However, what I feel is true at that time and more than likely in the future.
    Now, what I said about this man is not the real issue – had I wrote this on blogspot – or written worse – I doubt anyone would care. I think what is driving people is where what I said has ended up. So it’s not so much the content but the parapet from which it is being yelled. Bear in mind that I did not write that post looking for google – should I alter my views and posts then simply because what I say might be high in a result ? There IS a post I made recently which I was fairly confident would get high in google and I wrote it with that in mind (and I will use that post if needed for not-good) but with the post at the centre of this discussion I did not. I simply said what I thought.
    I take your point about opinions not being equal and I agree – I’m no Richard Littlejohn or Lord Deedes – but if I am to water down what I think and write then why bother blogging ? I see this guy as being little different to Tom Cruise – yet another person I have not met – someone I will attack at every opportunity. I already – believe it or not – impose a level of censorship on myself. I have really wanted to blog certain events, certain news items but I know they will offend or upset friends. But there’s the key: friends.

    I may yet remove that post but if I do it will be on my terms – after all, what does it teach these others if they harrass me with comments and get their way ? No matter how it is looked at, I chose certain facts and said what I thought.

  9. Cena:

    Freedom of expression (as a constitutional guarantee) is NOT unlimited freedom.

    Absolutely, and nor should it be.
    But we have laws for that and in the case of an ISP, we have their TOS too. I have violated neither. I clearly said that the law found this guy not guilty. And I then said what I thought about what was reported. That same sort of thing happens in thousands of blogs daily.

    I have done nothing wrong. Others say differently. That’s fine – I have not edited anything on that post or comments – even Mr “copy and paste”.

  10. I agree, Mark, that I don’t think that you did/are doing anything wrong with that post. I only tried to say that I would probably have done differently, but that wasn’t intended as a judgement against you or your choice.

    I also agree that a major appeal (and strength) of blogging is the immediacy you mentioned. It’s a double-edged sword, however, and I think I was simply thinking out loud about the larger philosophical questions of ‘blogger ethics/responsiblities’ (if any); the post that gave rise to all this served as a good jumping off place. :)

    But you’re right. It’s clear you were expressing an opinion, regardless of how little the guy’s friends (or anyone else) may like it; whether or not it’s ‘objectively’ true that the guy is nice or a sleaze is kind of beside the point when one is simply posting a reaction; not only that, but ‘freedom of expression’ means nothing if it is only extended to those with whom we happen to agree. My concern arises only when opinions get elevated to the status of fact and are presented that way (which is not how I viewed your post.)

    If a personal blog is essentially a record of one’s immediate reactions/thoughts to a given event at a particular moment in time, that’s just as good a reason for keeping one as anything else. If I gave the impression that I thought that was an illegitimate use of the medium, then mea culpa. :)

  11. Cena – I didn’t take anything you said as anything other than an honest opinion which is what I asked for. I agree about the double-edged bit and I have to admit that I blog from the comfortable position of no employer to answer to (I doubt my wife would sack me !). That said I’d be hard to silence anyway – I was when I was a nurse.

    Are there implcations ? Yes if you are read and no if you are not. Which, given that the Yes crowd (I’m thinking A-list, not me !) are in the minority then rules should be made for the majority – that’s no rules then, save for the Law and any TOS.

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