“It’s sad that we can’t…report on experiences freely”

by Walter Olson on September 29, 2011

Reader Helene G. writes: “I recently joined our local mother’s club, and I received this message. It’s sad that we can’t use the mother’s club forum to report on experiences freely, without risk of being sued”

“Our forums are a great help to many in our moms community. However, we have a very specific guideline relating to negative comments about an individual, company or indeed health clubs.

Specifically, if you’ve had a negative experience with a vendor or individual, you need to use this format below. NO MATTER HOW BAD THE EXPERIENCE.

——-
Message Title: Negative Experience at

Message: I had a negative experience with . If you are thinking of hiring/using this vendor, please contact me.
——-

I’m sorry that in some instances we cannot have more relaxed guidelines, but we have to protect our group. Thanks for understanding.”

(& welcome Elie Mystal/Above the Law readers)

{ 4 comments }

1 shg 09.29.11 at 12:00 pm

But this is nonsense. Section 230 provides complete immunity to the provider of the forum. This sounds like someone who doesn’t have a clue getting overwrought about imaginary issues. While it’s sad that it happens at all, it’s more important not to perpetuate or spread it.

2 Walter Olson 09.29.11 at 12:18 pm

Maybe they feel they can’t afford lawyers to fight off subpoenas demanding the identity of participants, to name but one of the costs that can be inflicted by a potential plaintiff.

3 aballardparent 09.29.11 at 10:02 pm

You know I don’t think that is a bad practice. I’m a parent and as a member of a groups like this I’m not interested in hearing people bad mouth businesses in a public forum. It generally is negative and ugly and more often than not, not an accurate portrayal of the relationship I would have with that same business. Now, if I am interested in using that business I know who to contact to get more information.

There are plenty of places to post negative information about businesses. A mom’s group seems not the place.

4 shg 10.01.11 at 5:33 am

The better answer is to advocate for strong anti-SLAPP laws nationwide. But if people are going to run scared because of baseless threats, there’s nothing that can be done short of a spine transplant.

It’s tough to be principled, as you and I both know too well.

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