/ Supertopo Forum to shut down

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Andy Fielding - on 18 May 2019
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pneame - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Andy Fielding:

Very sad news. 

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rgold - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Andy Fielding:

Ruined by out-of-control political threads, extreme trolling, and apparently the specter of legal consequences.  Sadly, in today's internet, I don't think you can maintain minimal levels of relevance and civility without at least some moderation.  CM and RJ had little time or little interest in providing controls (probably both), and so the whole thing eventually got out of hand.  R.I.P.

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Deadeye - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Andy Fielding:

That's a shame - useful source.

Anyone know any more about the lawsuits referred to?

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Offwidth - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Deadeye:

Too much advantage being taken by idiots and an incredibly valuable community service has been lost.

"the SuperTopo Climber's Forum has never been a profitable business venture. It costs us a significant amount of time and money each year to operate the Forum, and we have done so as a service for the climbing community for 18 years. But, the prospect of having to bear increased potential costs in the future, both in time and legal costs, due to litigation related to inappropriate posts by a minority of forum members has changed the math. I am sorry to say this, but we no longer feel we can justify continued operation of the Forum."

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Offwidth - on 18 May 2019
Deadeye - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

Yes, I read that.... I wondered if anyone could expand.  Further down the thread it alludes to third party action against the site because of comments made on it.  There is also mention of copyright infringement

Post edited at 10:48
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Deadeye - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> More here as well


Ah... if you delve further into that, it seems a thread offended a senior political figure who probably has lawyers with time on their hands.  That's pretty seedy actually.

Post edited at 11:07
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Lord_ash2000 - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Deadeye:

I don't much about the whole legal thing but it seems harsh for the operators of a fourm to be liable for what random members of the public write on it. 

If I provide a white a board for a public meeting room and a member of the public writes something very offensive on it, why's it my fault? Pursue the one who wrote it if anything. 

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planetmarshall on 18 May 2019
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> I don't much about the whole legal thing but it seems harsh for the operators of a fourm to be liable for what random members of the public write on it. 

There's lots of pressure from various quarters to make internet platforms responsible for content uploaded to their sites, and unlike the likes of YouTube I doubt Supertopo has the resources to fight the tide.

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Offwidth - on 18 May 2019
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

That's just naive. Just because the person who writes libelous statements is liable for that, it doesn't remove responsibility from the owner of where they wrote it. If you own that white board and control what is written there and you are warned of something potentially libellous and don't remove it as soon as is practicable, it's your fault, as that libel is in a public view that you could prevent. Why is a web forum any different to comments on an e-newspaper?

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UKB Shark - on 19 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

It’s not clear cut where responsibility lies as the law hasn’t kept pace with developments in social media. 

A forum isn’t a publisher but a platform. Legal liability mainly lies with the user but the law isn’t clear as to how much or if any responsibility lies with the forum owner with for example policing defamatory statements made by users.

There is freedom of expression to grapple with as well.

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pasbury on 19 May 2019
In reply to Andy Fielding:

F*cking internet; so good; and then it went so bad.

Post edited at 00:13
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elsewhere on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

Legal liability is almost irrelevant.  Most people can't afford the expense of defending a legal case* or the stress of being sued  so they must to cave in to legal threats and/or close the website.

* even if the defence is strong it is still unaffordable 

Post edited at 00:25
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UKB Shark - on 19 May 2019
In reply to elsewhere:

Facebook is in the same boat

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elsewhere on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

A business valued that much is not "most people", Facebook can afford many lawyers.

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UKB Shark - on 19 May 2019
In reply to elsewhere:

Legal liability is not irrelevant. If there are clear rulings in cases established then a prosecution against a forum owner could be thrown out at first hearing. Personally I wouldn’t cave into baseless threats of legal action in any area of life.

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purplemonkeyelephant - on 19 May 2019
In reply to Andy Fielding:

If 4chan still exists, I'm pretty sure SuperTopo can still exist. 

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Offwidth - on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

Chris has clearly indicated that his forums were regarded as a target.

The big social media providers have some horrendously conservative moderation policies carried out by poor people in places like the Philippines, often with terrible psychological damage resulting. 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/culture_bunker/the_internets_dirtiest_secrets-702424

Their 'community standards' are a partly a proxy for libel protection and they have an army of moderators behind this with concerns for libel in mind. They have plenty of well paid lawyers with access ro funds in case of any slips who know when to settle with compensation. The assumed legal immunity is just because the sites normally remove libelous content quickly and the existing  law isn't being properly tested. Hence the user becomes by far the easiest target. The principle in law is still clear enough even if the details haven't always kept up with the advances in use of technology. If a lawyer determined to deal with a clear libel on behalf of a rich client contacts a site and asks for something to be taken down and the site refuses and then refuses to settle, when they realise they are possibly in the shit,  I'm pretty sure they will end up in court.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/world/europe/facebook-libel-paul-tweed.html

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UKB Shark - on 19 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

I maintain the legal position is not clear where responsibility lies for forum owners. Be useful to have some case law precedents but not aware of any in the UK.

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Offwidth - on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

I never disagreed with that. The legal principle is still clear though its just that judges need to catch up with the 21st century applications of it. Facebook etc are very well protected Supertopo wasn't (even from the time and initial expense in cases where libel would not be found).

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elsewhere on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

A practical issue is the potential that defending and winning a case might bankrupt an individual or small business owner of a website.

Post edited at 12:58
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UKB Shark - on 19 May 2019
In reply to elsewhere:

I agree it is a practical issue when the law is unclear and forum owners legal responsibilities are unclear in this respect. In the absence of clear guidance threats of legal action against forum owners can flourish and be successful in having posts removed even if those posts might be factually true or at least not untrue which is a way of suppressing freedom of speech.

Not having clear legal guidance in how a publisher is legally different from a platform is I think not helpful to forum owners or in the public interest.

I imagine there are individuals and organisations that champion freedom of speech would be supportive of a suitable test case.

In the absence of clarity it is prudent for forum owners to be suitably insured and/or put the forum in a limited company so liability is limited.

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Offwidth - on 19 May 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

There is some clear legal guidance. You cannot display something known to be libelous without being open to legal action on that and also that its wise to think carefully about retaining content where libel is likely but as yet unproven. It's why likely libel disappears quickly from nearly every internet platform. What the libel lawyers want is for such material never to be shown and this is where the law is currently very unclear for internet platforms and where a newspaper would normally be sued.

Post edited at 14:13
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dunnyg - on 19 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

You guys make a cute couple.

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