Should MeFi have the capacity for geoblocking content? December 13, 2018 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Though I know we typically rail against its use in the overwhelming majority of cases, I only ask because this post being viewable from a location where the news it involves is subject to a suppression order is... troubling.
posted by MarchHare to Etiquette/Policy at 4:42 PM (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

No, it seems entirely outside the scope of what MetaFilter could reasonably manage to take on the responsibility of proactively geoblocking content like this, even if I was particularly inclined to want to. The misalignment between aging law and practice and the contemporary reality of the internet absolutely does make for some weird situations, and this is one of 'em, but: so it goes, shit is weird sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2018 [17 favorites]


I don't understand, why would it be "troubling"?
posted by bleep at 4:57 PM on December 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Fair answer, cortex. It's been a weird couple of days on Australian social media. A lot of friends using deliberately coded language, for fear of giving a legal team an out. And given the identity and resources understood to be available to the individual and their employer it's hard to tell if that concern is unfounded or not.
posted by MarchHare at 4:58 PM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Worth pointing out, though, that there's something of a precedent - Dow vs Gutnick found that defamation, in the case of internet-published media, could be prosecuted "at his primary residence and the place he was best known" i.e. Australia.

It's unikely that decision would extend directly to contempt of a suppression order from an Australian court, and there's obviously plenty of bigger fish to fry (not the least, the Catholic media in the US) - but the potential is there & should be considered rather than brushed off.
posted by Pinback at 5:37 PM on December 13, 2018


Would it be possible to add to this post a note that the linked post refers to molestation? I normally would choose to pass on such a post but didn’t know that’s what it was about.
posted by CMcG at 7:35 PM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't understand, why would it be "troubling"?

Troubling from an Australian perspective because it might be prejudicial to a future trial. It's a really strong principle of Australian (and other) law that an offender's other convictions aren't relevant, and aren't disclosed ahead of time.

[To be clear, I don't see any reason for Metafilter to either care about this, or do anything about it. Just suggesting why Aussies might care].
posted by Pink Frost at 7:56 PM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh I see. That took me awhile to figure out from the post and even then I still didn't get it totally. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by bleep at 8:13 PM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Right, getting some disclaimers in first. I don't know adept256 or MarchHare and I don't remotely think either of you have made bad posts or done anything in the least wrong. Absent the particular legal situation the post on the Blue is a good post.

That said, geoblocking is so not the answer here, the solution isn't technical. I strongly share your disquiet MarchHare, being from the UK, i.e. another small nation with semi comparable legal system(s). For 99% of things I'd take an FPP about something banned from publication in England And Wales yet still available in Scotland due to their separate legal system in stride, since such events are a feature of British life anyhow.

However, if it was my country, I would not be happy about seeing something on the front page "above the fold" which could just as easily be put below the fold as a concession to the jurisdiction in which it was taking place, the inevitable presence of people from there in Mefi's ranks and the seriousness of the charges. The worse the crime, the more assiduously fair the trial so far as I'm concerned and if people are able to tweak their similar posts slightly in the future then we could have the best of both worlds, i.e. the discussion of what people don't/should know by outsiders/the willing, plus the polite fig leaf which enables those who don't want to know to skip it.

If a community can manage to maintain Red Wedding spoilers to this day, then it can manage not to prejudice an actual real trial on the other side of the world for the sake of front-loading a discussion, even if the non-reporting of it presents actual danger to people as it could easily be said to in this case. Include that fact above the fold in big bold letters.

I dunno, it's easy to pontificate because I'm removed from it. I'd like us (me!) to try to be better and more aware of the breadth of our impact. More than that, I'd like the bastard to be held accountable for every single crime he committed with zero wiggle room for appeal, but that's off-topic here, sorry.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:21 PM on December 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of the Canadian murder case involving Karla Homolka, where a judge ordered a media blackout on discussion of the subject throughout the country. Journalists pushed back against censorship and a Usenet forum was created to route around it.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:38 AM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it was a bit startling to see his name straight from the summary, but it's not like I couldn't find out elsewhere. I was alerted to it by an Australian newspaper anyway as they posted an article to explain why they weren't reporting on it.

I can see the point of suppression orders but it's already going to be a complicated case as he's a pretty controversial figure and the catholic school system is huge here. Most people are going to have opinions on this one regardless.
posted by kitten magic at 10:28 PM on December 14, 2018


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