Critics slam “hate-filled” Treasury spending site
Campaign groups and members of the public have slammed the government’s new Spending Challenge website, claiming the site’s moderators are allowing offensive and potentially illegal comments to be published.
The website – launched last week by HM Treasury – is supposed to be a platform where members of the public can suggest areas where the government could save money.
The site is full of hate-filled racist and disablist suggestions
The problem is the public can have often radical views and critics say the Treasury is not doing enough to ensure that offensive posts are removed quickly.
“The site is full of hate-filled racist and disablist suggestions, including the sterilisation of benefits claimants, the return of the workhouse and the forced repatriation of asylum seekers and migrants,” said benefits advice site Work and Benefits in an open letter.
“It is an offence to publish material which is likely to stir up racial hatred. Benefits and Work believes that this is exactly the effect that the treasury website will have. The content may also be in breach of discrimination and harassment legislation.”
The site does have a button which allows users to alert a moderator via an email. However, the Treasury had yet to tell us at the time of going to press how many moderators were employed on the site and what guidelines they had been given for dealing with offensive material.
Posters to the site have complained that reporting comments to the moderators had proved pointless.
“Is the moderator asleep? I wish to report a hate crime,” wrote user websitefullofhate. “I have been reading the comments on here and have reported several which I believe constitute hate incidents and should be reported to the police. Yet still, they are not being removed.”
According to lawyers, the contents of a moderated website forum are the responsibility of the publisher – in this case the Treasury – and the publisher could be held responsible for any material that breached laws on spreading racial hatred or discrimination.
“When a site is moderated, either before content appears or shortly thereafter, the operator of the site assumes responsibility for the material that appears,” Kim Walker, a lawyer with Pinsent Mason law firm, told PC Pro. “The only way around this would be if you didn’t moderate it at all.”