Why I am fighting for freedom of speech

Charlotte Richards

All over Twitter this week, there has been a huge fuss over the comments section on various trade websites. Many advisers believe we, as the trade press, should moderate comments.

Firstly, it is almost impossible to have someone to vet every single registered account to check if they are genuine accounts. And who has the time, money and even patience for that? It could take up a lot of our time when we are aiming to produce quality articles for you to read.

Before I continue, I must now say I am in no way endorsing hatred comments.

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Allowing readers to have their say about our stories is a major part of modern media and the world we live in today. Virtually every website I visit has a comments section at the bottom of an article where you can either, with a registered name or anonymously, write a comment.

Even if anonymous comments are not allowed, anyone can create a new email address. It is so simple to create email addresses. I’m sure if I could be bothered, I could have one set up in two minutes flat.

The BBC has a comments section. The Daily Mail does. The Mail even allows some truly heinous comments to be published and they are moderated before being put live. Even if you don’t agree that Barry from Swindon claiming Cheryl Cole has cankles or Sharon from Newcastle thinking the Duchess of Cambridge still has to lose some baby weight isn’t in the same league as this, it is. The Mail’s policy is that so long as it is not libel, it can be said. And as libel law states, ‘fair comment’.

So my real question is, why is the trade press specifically being targeted? I have read on Twitter that a few advisers have decided not to speak to certain publications due to some comments posted on their websites. It’s not their fault that a few people out there clearly have nothing better to do with their time.

One must remember there is such thing as freedom of speech in this country. We each have a right to communicate our opinions. We cannot start moderating everything people say. There would be no end to it. This is what our ancestors fought for!

As long as comments are not libellous, there should be no reason for our readers not to express their opinions.

I understand (to some extent) how the individuals targeted may feel, but for the most part I agree with freedom of speech. If someone doesn’t like something, they should have the right to be able to say it. So what if there are a few nasty people out there? These “adults” clearly have nothing better to do with their time than to pick on individuals.

If someone wants to have a pop at me online, go for it. After all, Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”