Particular care must be taken to avoid the publication of defamatory material through user-generated content on bulletin boards or other interactive areas. One option is to premoderate high risk sites but this may not always be practicable or the best legal solution. For more guidance see Section 15: Interacting with our audience - User generated content.
The 1996 Defamation Act provides the 'innocent disseminator' of libellous material with a defence. An innocent disseminator needs to be able to demonstrate that (1) they are not the author, editor, or publisher of the material (2) they took reasonable care in relation to the material and (3) they had no reason to believe that their actions caused or contributed to the publication of the material.
Premoderating material can require us to adopt an editorial role but the 'innocent disseminator' cannot be an editor or author so deciding how and when to intervene when moderating is key. If in doubt as to the degree of moderation a site should receive, refer to Head of Editorial Affairs, New Media or Editorial Policy, who may contact Programme Legal Advice Department.
Irrespective of how the user-generated content is moderated we should respond to complaints as soon as reasonably practicable. This may include removing the material complained of. Failure to do so could constitute failure to take reasonable care precluding us from using the 'innocent disseminator' defence.
If in any doubt about whether material is defamatory, contact Programme Legal Advice Department.