WordPress versus bloggers
Padraig Reidy: The popular blogging platform has rolled over in the face of libel threats
18 Jan 10

On 6 January, Index reported that blogging platform WordPress had temporarily removed the site of the Bristol Blogger after receiving a letter claiming the blog had defamed academic Howard Newby.

Turns out the Bristol Blogger wasn’t the only person to be affected. A British academic blogger points out that his blog too, was censored by WordPress, after the company received a letter from Newby’s people.

It’s tempting to blame WordPress for this, and the haste with which they complied with the solicitors is a little worrying. But the problem here is of course, with the libel laws. WordPress could be liable for any content carried on their platforms, in the way distributors John Menzies and WH Smith could be held liable for content they distributed in the infamous John Major vs New Statesman case.

This really can’t go on.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.