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FriendsReunited shuts down message board

I must not slag off teach. I must not slag off teach...
Written by Joey Gardiner, Contributor

I must not slag off teach. I must not slag off teach...

Website FriendsReunited.co.uk, which became an overnight success on launch earlier this year, has been forced to suspend its message board after it emerged some former pupils have been using the site to post libellous comments about their ex-teachers. The new website invites users to get in touch with old school friends by posting personal details next to lists of local schools. However, according to a report in The Observer yesterday teaching unions have been outraged by user comments on the site alleging child abuse and other misconduct by their former tutors. The suspension of services comes despite attempts by the owners of the FriendsReunited site to address the concerns by adding a button allowing users to report abusive comments. It issued a statement today from founder Julie Pankhurst: "We've taken on board concerns raised and intend to work with the relevant people to nip this in the bud. Teachers are a major part of school memories and almost all the comments on our site about teachers are very positive." FriendsReunited claims it has actually only received 12 complaints about content, with 512,000 messages having been posted. The case is the latest controversy to arise in the thorny area of who is responsible for web content posted by website users. Yahoo! has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle after French courts ruled it had to stop selling Nazi memorabilia on its US site. Late last week a US court overturned this decision, saying a French court has no jurisdiction over a US site. More pertinent to the UK is the case of Godfrey vs Demon, where university professor Laurence Godfrey claimed he was being libelled on a Demon message board. Demon claimed that as an ISP it could not be held responsible for content and refused to take the offending text down. Godfrey won his case, and forced Demon to pay £250,000 damages and accept an ISP has a role in judging the merits of online content. David Hart, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, who yesterday called for the site to be closed down if it could not control the content, was unavailable for comment.
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