BBC Says It May Contact Your Boss If You Post Comments It Finds Problematic

from the wait,-what? dept

There are all sorts of different ways that websites that allow comments have dealt with trollish behavior over the years, but I think the BBC's new policy is the first I've seen in which the organization threatens that it may contact your boss or your school (found via Frank Fisher).

The new policy has a short section on "offensive or inappropriate content on BBC websites" where it says the following:

Offensive or inappropriate content on BBC websites

If you post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content anywhere on or to BBC websites or otherwise engage in any disruptive behaviour on any BBC service, the BBC may use your personal information to stop such behaviour.

Where the BBC reasonably believes that you are or may be in breach of any applicable laws (e.g. because content you have posted may be defamatory), the BBC may use your personal information to inform relevant third parties such as your employer, school email/internet provider or law enforcement agencies about the content and your behaviour.

To be fair, it does seem to limit this to cases where it believes you've violated the law, but even so, it seems like a stretch to argue that the BBC should be calling your boss to tell on you for being a dipshit online, even if you break the law. We've all seen the stories of people actually confronting their own trolls or, better yet, the mothers of their trolls, but to make it official BBC policy seems to be going a bit far. Sure, if someone is breaking a criminal law, informing the police sounds perfectly reasonable, but your boss or your school?

Anyway, I guess be forewarned: if you don't want the BBC telling your boss you're a jerk online, maybe don't be a jerk on the BBC's website.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 3:56am

    >I guess be forewarned: if you don't want the BBC telling your boss you're a jerk online, maybe don't be a jerk on the BBC's website.

    Alternatively, don't post while on the network of the company that you work for, but rather use a public WiFi hotspot.

    I assume they will use the posters IP address to identify who to contact, as names used on their site can very well be false.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Satanist, 18 May 2017 @ 4:01am

    satan?

    you go right ahead

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 4:09am

    This is the same BBC that will soon be requiring registration for using iPlayer so you better believe they know everything about you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 4:12am

    Presumably this is when they trace the IP to an employer, in order to find the source of the defamation, rather than hunting you down through Facebook/etc.

    And if you are posting legally contentious things from your work machine (presumably on work time), is it unreasonable to tell them>

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 4:32am

    FTFY

    if you don't want the BBC telling your boss you're a jerk online, maybe don't visit the BBC's website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 5:12am

    And what if you're a hired troll to post on a website? "So the BBC tells me that you've been posting nasty comments on their website... keep up the good work!"

    I don't think this is going to solve the problem the BBC thinks it will solve...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      It may make it easy to find the repeat offenders.

      If you get caught watching porn at work, you better be prepared for consequences. This seems somewhat similar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 5:32am

    That works!

    What could possibly go wrong with a policy like this? I mean it's not like it's easy to pretend to be someone else on the internet or anything....

    Next up: BBC demands website visitors submit passport, driving license, statements from 3 witnesses and sworn affidavit from a judge as to your identity before being allowed to comment

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 5:39am

    let the trolling commence!

    After enough false positives happen it will be ignored by businesses. They are not going to give a shit about who posts what.

    Conversely they just sent a challenge to all of the trolls online, and one they are likely to accept with glee!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 5:59am

    If you're abusive AND insightful, they let you host Top Gear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 5:59am

    Clearly an attempt at intimidation

    Just the headline screams that this is a threat to intimidate people who post contrary opinions.

    What will be the result? People will post their contrary opinions on other sites. In fact, everyone including people with agreeable opinions may flee BBC because of the chilling effect.

    BBC: no thanks, I can post my opinions in other places without having to think about whether my opinions may or may not offend you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Kay (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Clearly an attempt at intimidation

      They're trying to rid the site of the unbearable amount of trolling and comments that go way beyond just posting a dissenting opinion so that the comments actually generate discussion instead of just heaps of abuse and flame wars.

      There are tons of sites that are grappling with this issue, of how to get rid of all the sociopaths and psychopaths (and death threats and other crap) but still preserve the more thoughtful discussions.

      I've never been a fan of heavy moderation, but I don't like using the upvote system either (slashdot is one of the worst, also doesn't anyone watch Black Mirror?). So it will be interesting to see what sort of culling system that various sites end up settling on to deal with this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mickz masineick, 18 May 2017 @ 6:01am

    see i am mike

    ya know like sparticus

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 6:13am

    Just more censorship. They really do want to control every aspect of everyone's life ... I guess it is because they have no life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 6:16am

    Well, BBC is from UK, the country with most censorship and surveillance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      yep. CC TV everywhere. "They know when you are sleeping, they know when you're awake. They know if you've been bad or good..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 7:48am

    Ha! I'm a private contractor and in a different country!
    So as long as I'm not overly drunk when I write something, I already know what I wrote...
    And good luck telling my Mom unless they wanna use a ouija board, she has been dead for decades...
    But at this point or at least at some point in the near future I just assume the collective shame of humanity known as our "elected officials" (can anyone at this point say that without snickering) will have so sold out our rights in pursuit of their glorious careers, that everything I say or write will be recorded, collected or analyzed somewhere or somehow.
    The real problem is the constant erosion of lines... What is snarky or sarcastic one day can be considered trolling or aggressive the next.
    Walking the tightrope of censorship will inevitably lead to a fall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 18 May 2017 @ 8:00am

    BBC

    1st off, fuck the BBC, they can report me to whoever they want.

    2nd, do they really have the time and resources to track down the anonymous commenters, find their IP addresses then determine which of the hundreds or thousands of people at that address are the individual, and then determine who their employer is and THEN tell them that they were legally expressing their opinion in a way that hurts their feelings?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cowardly Lion, 18 May 2017 @ 9:55am

      Re: BBC

      Answer to the 2nd, yes, the BBC are awash with idle hands. Lets not forget they are funded by a special "UK TV tax" to the tune of several billion quids each year.

      My response to the 1st - I think it'd be quite fun to register on bbc.com as oh I don't know Sean Spicer, spoof the White House ip, then go off on a rant about pinko commie fag subversives...

      [nb in case anyone's offended - the reference is an obscure cultural one from '80s UK TV presenter / DJ Kenny Everett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMHDBL7CNA4]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck, 18 May 2017 @ 8:10am

    Nice try

    Two things here. First, my boss is my mother, and as I answer all the phones, all the email, and even read all the faxes before she sees any of it, good luck telling her anything. (Not that it would matter. I'm no troll and we agree on almost everything politically.)

    Second, since when are the BBC's comment moderators legal scholars? I mean, in order to "reasonably believe" that my post is illegal, they'd have to know the laws relating to libel, slander, etc., in virtually every country on earth. Hell, those laws aren't even the same across the US, so at minimum, we're talking 300+ federal laws and an additional 50 state laws (plus likely some differences in provinces of other nations too.)

    And third, I guess: If the BBC's comment moderators ARE actually this sort of world-class legal scholars, what the hell are they doing moderating comments on a web site? They could be faculty at Oxford with that sort of knowledge!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:53am

      Re: Nice try

      First, my boss is my mother, and as I answer all the phones, all the email, and even read all the faxes before she sees any of it, good luck telling her anything.

      Prince Charles, is that you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 8:33am

    And what precisely makes anyone at the BBC qualified to decide if other people have broken the law and determine appropriate punishments? Do they have a judge working there now?? How is that supposed to work?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 8:35am

    It's the only way to be.

    Never voice contrary opinions, offend anyone, use colorful language. This is what this is all about. Social indoctrination to be a good meek citizen. Or we'll tell on you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 9:01am

      Re: It's the only way to be.

      Correct.

      People living in civilized society are expected to follow cultural norms so they can rub along together with minimal friction and upset.

      Online anonymity (or pseudonymity) allows people to get away with all sorts of rude, boorish, insulting behavior that most of them would never consider if their real name, and personal reputation, were involved.

      In offline life, people talk one way within an intimate circle of friends, and another much more polite way in public.

      Online comments are more like graffiti than civil conversation. It's an extremely widespread problem that nobody really knows how to deal with.

      This is part of the general flailing in response to trolling. I don't think it's a good idea, or will work, but it's to be expected that random weird ideas will get tried until somebody comes up with a good solution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re: It's the only way to be.

        ?People living in civilized society are expected to follow cultural norms so they can rub along together with minimal friction and upset.

        A polite surface to a remark can wrap a deadly insult, it just takes a bit of subtlety.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 19 May 2017 @ 5:02pm

          Re: it just takes a bit of subtlety

          If trolling were subtle, it wouldn't be a problem.

          Or trolling.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 20 May 2017 @ 4:26am

            Re: Re: it just takes a bit of subtlety

            That's arguable. Some kinds of subtle trolling are actually worse than the obvious sorts; if the troll can convince or otherwise maneuver people into having the disruptive-of-meaningful-discourse argument on their own, rather than the troll having to hold up (at least one side of) the argument entirely on his/her/etc. own efforts, that actually does more damage while at the same time being easier and more satisfying for the original troll.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jordan Chandler, 18 May 2017 @ 10:26am

        Re: Re: It's the only way to be.

        My boss would think ti's a joke if BBC contacted her in the USA to let her know one of her employees is "rude"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PJ, 18 May 2017 @ 10:42am

    I worked for some years in a country where the employees of a humanitarian organisation I worked for seemed to spend an absolutely inordinate amount of time circulating chain letters to their friends by email. In terms of mail system storage, backup and recovery times, and bandwidth it amounted to a horrendous tax on resources, bordering on sabotage, and of course it was a violation of policy.

    Typically each piece of this junk that came in got passed around internally and then amplified -- sent out many times -- and of course sent back some more.

    As part of discouraging it I let it be known that incoming message traffic found to be in violation of policy on official use could be returned to the postmaster of originating organisations. Subsequently it wasn't necessary to read mail or even actually return messages as quite a lot could be deduced using a traffic analysis solution I used. A few generically worded messages copied to the right people and their postmaster was sufficient. The message was simple: unusual volumes of traffic may be investigated and if found to be of an unofficial nature could lead to mail from the originating domain being blocked from sending to ours.

    80% of the traffic concerned came from the same few organisations and all it needed was the word to go round.

    I see no reason whatever why the BBC should not report threatening, abusive or illegal behaviour online to the originating organisations if they can be identified. I would draw the line at people's private conduct however, that is none of their employer's business. The key question is whose resources were used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 10:42am

    Wouldn't it be easier...

    ...just to delete the comment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:58am

    Define "problematic."

    Like, "The BBC hires people and lets them sexually abuse young people for years!" problematic, or...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 11:20am

      Re:

      Define "problematic."

      Like, "The BBC hires people and lets them sexually abuse young people for years!" problematic, or...?

      It's apparently up to the discretion of people at the BBC to decide what is problematic and what is not. For example, I imagine they might find what you posted about them to be "problematic."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 11:25am

    Writing messages to the employers of his imagined enemies is one of the tactis the Dread Pro-se Pedo Kimberlin used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 11:28am

    'Where the BBC reasonably believes'

    While I know the content cartels like to think of themselves as a special sort of law enforcement, this is over the line.

    You think they broke the law, turn them over to actual authorities. Aren't there enough cases world wide where innocent people we screwed by trolls or idiots who don't understand the tech? Do they think reasonable belief will protect them in court, in a country with INSANE libel laws?
    You go to John Smiths employer & report these posts you claim are his but they aren't. How many 0's on the check? How many times do they need to pay out before they figure out they are better off providing content & not quasi-legal policing of the world?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 4:45pm

    So who do the public call when the BBC "post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content"

    Mrs BBC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 7:40pm

    Just get a VPN account so your connection is hidden from your ISP and is mixed in with a bunch of other traffic coming from the VPN end point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 19 May 2017 @ 12:41am

    Welcome to the Big Brother Corporation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 19 May 2017 @ 5:50am

    As others have said, if they want a sterile community let them have it and take your money and clicks elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hanny Or Melissa, 20 May 2017 @ 9:40am

    All will definitely receive a reply for the actions that have been done

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 22 May 2017 @ 11:25am

    So, the BBC has developed a technology that can crack my offshore, log-free VPN encryption and then tie my anonymous, fake user profile to my actual identity?

    If so, they should get out of the TV biz and start selling this software!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 4:17pm

    What if your boss is Theresa May?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2017 @ 1:08am

    who gives a shit now that it's a tabloid?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.