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Freedom And Responsibility

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There are few people who understand that Web Sites are property like cars, houses or businesses. With ownership also comes responsibility and liabilty. If you own a car you're responsible for safety, property damage, personal injury including those that result in death. As the driver you are responsible for those in your vehicle. You need to have the proper licenses and insurance and keep the car maintained. Depending on the state the driver is responsible to make sure the occupants are wearing seat belts. If you drive irresponsibly and kill someone you could be tried for manslaughter as well as have to pay money beyond your insured value. Home and business owners are responsible for the safety of those on their property and those that use their services. Web Site owners are soley responsible for ALL the content on their web site including forums and chat. It doesn't matter who writes it.

Internet suicide case goes to federal court . Absent from this article is MYSpace's liability. Whether they are innocent or guilty you can bet they'll be consulting lawyers at their expense and end up in court eventually.

Site owners are also responsible for following the laws of the internet, state and Federal laws in which they operate. When I started this site in Spring 2004 I received a letter from a well meaning Government employee warning about discussing illegal hormones as "websites may not promote any illegal activity or posting things that may lead to illegal activity". Strange advice considering the hate sites out there but religious sites have free speech. I'm told you can find plans for weapons on the internet. Why don't they bother those sites? There is no question that laws are not equally applied. If I'm prepared to follow laws up to the highest court maybe I'd win. That takes money. I have a self-imposed higher moral resposibility though which is to keep my users, myself and my site safe. I take that very seriously. I also care about my users. It's why I started this site and why we prevent suicides here. It's why we keep our moderators up to date on the tools they need to fulfill that mission. Why aren't there a hundred sites out there preventing Transgender suicides? The answer is liability and who can blame them. It also means we have to be more careful than most. It's why we pay more attention to user safety issues. Even my lawyer after reviewing the site told me I should drop suicide prevention here, to protect myself better. I haven't and don't plan to. Of course he doesn't understand our Communities needs either.

You'll find most larger sites have taken steps to protect them and their users. It's the responsible thing to do. The more users the greater the responsibility. "Most Terms Of Service rules are there for a specific reason that is not for the personal benefit of the forum owner". Site owners set these rules to both protect themselves and their users. They don't do it because they want to spoil everyone's fun. Statement: "I hate censorship"! MY Reply: "I hate letters from lawyers". Was it free speech in the article from the woman above? Does anyone have the right to cause someone's suicide with their words? Is myspace responsible? Technically yes. When I banned a user here for suggesting therapy that has been proven to cause suicide attempts in our crisis rooms was I censoring or caring enough to be responsible? We are here to prevent suicides not cause more. Hate speech has also caused suicide attempts here. What's more important, freedom to hate or preventing deaths? What I won't do is having my site cause someone's death.

What other site owners do is up to them and is their risk to take. I do what I feel I have to do to protect my users, me, my site and my staff. This site is a free community service. We ask nothing in return but to be civil to each other and not to put someone else here at risk. This site started moderating posts because of some vicious attacks by some very hateful people that were harming users. It wasn't done to stifle people. In fact since we started it there has actually been far less moderation than their used to be under the old system. Over 99% of posts are approved as is. The less than 1% that don't get approved we always say why and what is need to correct the problem. Sometimes more is less.

This site is like an iceberg with most of its surface beneath what you see. There is a reason for everything here. That reason is to protect you and me and provide the best interactive community we can. We think we have done that. To produce what we do is totally dependent on all the work done behind the scenes. The final product may look effortless but I can assure you it is not. A lot of work went into this and more needs to be done. Enjoy the site.


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