Friday, November 20, 2009

Post-Dispatch editor tells on commenter, commenter loses job

Have you heard about this bizarre comment quandary at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch?

Last week, social media editor Kurt Greenbaum created a post on the paper's "Talk of the Day" blog about the strangest thing readers had eaten. Someone commented with a word for a part of a woman's anatomy. The comment was deleted by a Post-Dispatch employee.

A few minutes later, the same commenter posted the same comment on the blog post. Greenbaum deleted it, then used information from an e-mail notification about the comment to contact the school from which the comment was posted. Greenbaum forwarded the notification e-mail to the school, the school tracked down exactly who had posted the comment on the Post-Dispatch site, and the employee quit.

Then Greenbaum blogged about it, on his personal blog and for the paper.

The Post-Dispatch's privacy policy, which is posted on every page of the paper's website, says:
We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in “Compliance with Legal Process” below.
The paper's terms of service, also on every page of its website:
We have the right to disclose any information that we believe necessary to comply with any law, regulation or governmental request or that information that could prevent or assist in the resolution of any criminal, illegal, or inappropriate activity.

While the comment that started it all was not particularly nice, neither was it illegal. Now all sorts of people seem to be calling for Greenbaum to quit or be fired.

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