Atos, Allegations of Libel, and WordPress…

I wrote to WP, explaining the situation, and expressing the hope that they would do nothing without a court order should I fall foul of Atos (I didn’t think I would, as I’ve taken great pains not to be libellous – one can be extremely critical without doing so – but like CarerWatch, I could have been dropped in it by a comment).

This is their reply:-

Hi Ron,

Thank you for getting in touch.

We greatly respect our users’ rights to free speech, and unless we receive a valid court order requiring content to be removed or find that it clearly violates our Terms of Service, we will allow it to remain. We like to leave any judgments of content (in terms of defamation and the like) to the courts.

Furthermore, if a court order is received, and content is required to be removed, you will absolutely have the chance to remove said content and continue publishing on our service.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks!

— Anthony WordPress.com

So, if your blog has been trashed by Atos, or you feel you might be at risk, you could clearly do a lot worse that consider WordPress.com. Bear in mind, though, that if you recklessly, or carelessly,** set out to libel someone, as has actually happened with Atos, and they go to law, you’re screwed.

And no, I don’t mean CarerWatch – that was just staggeringly gutless on the part of their hosting service.

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4 thoughts on “Atos, Allegations of Libel, and WordPress…

  1. Pingback: WordPress.com and Libel (thank you to @rantsfromron) | The Creative Crip

  2. Notice the ToS get out, in practice WP have dropped blogs on initial contact from solicitor or legal dept, the statement sounds good but is not how it happens in reality. They might make a single post hidden, or suspend the whole blog with no contact with the blogger or explanation. I had WP now use WP.org on independent hosted outside the UK. I would not take that statement to mean they will not drop posts or the whole blog if ATOS come knocking, it simply is not a true reflection of how WP have acted in previous cases, it sounds nice and principled, it is not however what can happen in practice. The ToS is their get out.

    • I know about that – one reason I asked – but that was some time ago. And blogs have been suspended for breaching the ToS – not trashed – and have been reinstated once the offending material has been removed – I have no problem with that.

      Breach the ToS and really, actually, libel someone, be prepared for at least a degree of grief. In the almost 3.5 years I’ve been with WordPress.com I’ve spent a lot of time on the forums, and the breaches that got blogs suspended – not deleted – were quite clear-cut offences – stuff like advertising, or selling – there are tight and clearly-defined limits on both – or breaches of copyright. I don’t recall anyone simply having their blog binned. I’ve heard it had happened – doesn’t mean it has without first-hand evidence. And, of course, it depends why a blog was deleted – terrorist activity will get you dumped with no appeal, for example.

      And don’t forget that the WordPress we have now is not the free-wheeling bunch of geeks we had a few years ago – WordPress has changed considerably since those days. Not always for the better, but mostly. And your description of how they operate is manifestly NOT how they do things now, no matter if it was in the past.

      I, for one, am prepared to take them at their word until proven wrong – if that should ever happen.

  3. I’m getting more comments telling me how untrustworthy WordPress.com are. So here’s how it’s going to be – I shall, as of now, publish no further unsupported comments briefing against WordPress.com.

    You want me to publish, I want you to cite your sources, so that I can verify what’s being claimed for myself. I am not about to piss off WP by publishing unsupported allegations – not when I might conceivably need their support.

    And as it says in rule No.1 of my Comments Policy, This is not a democracy – the only absolute right to free speech, here, is mine.

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