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The BBC Has A New Policy Where They Reserve The Right To Tattle To Your Boss If You Post Mean Comments

Investigation In Jimmy Savile Allegations Continues

Techdirt – 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.

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

“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.”

Bold move by the BBC here. Putting something in a website’s privacy policy doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to do it — Techdirt also points out that the BBC may be more concerned with users posting illegal content — but they definitely now can do as much user harassing they want if they so choose. And that’s an interesting move. I’m all for personal accountability and think you should be willing to back up anything you say anonymously, don’t be an internet tough guy. So many trolls would run the other way if people in their lives knew it was them throwing outrageous opinions or insults out there online so it could be a fast way to curb shitposts.

But getting rid of the veil of anonymity on the internet is way too big of a move to do all of a sudden. It’s horrific when people like Darren Rovell narc on a student for sending shitty tweets because it’s so soft. But it’s also such a big deal because no one actually expects you to do that. You can’t change the rules of engagement all of a sudden and hold people to new guidelines. Commenters are going to bathe in people not knowing who they are and saying often shitty things, that’s their nature. Breaking out the big guns and threatening their whole lives is wayyyy too bold of a stance to unleash without years of notice and conditioning.

One thing I would allow? The BBC using all this info to call or email commenters and say mean things about their looks, job, or loved ones. Blowing up people’s lives for saying shitty things online is a bridge too far to me…tearing them down in the same way they try to do, that’s a far more equitable exchange. An eye for an eye and a hurtful insult for a hurtful insult.