No. of Recommendations: 2
Good morning Steve,

You said: However, in these days of litigation and blame, I don't think it can be completely ruled out that there could be lawsuits on this type of issue made against Yahoo and others in the future.

Yahoo has thousands and thousands of message boards, and it would be financially impossible for them to hire enough editors, lawyers and monitors to read and judge the merits of every post on their boards and still make a profit. However, they could install a system like we have at TMF with our BAD POST button and ask their customers to turn in posters who violate their rules by using such a system. That alone would cut down on a lot of the "noise".

If it can be judged that posters can in theory commit libel, stock fraud, general fraud and more by using these message boards, then I don't see why a lawyer couldn't try to argue that Yahoo and others are providing a defective product that is allowing its users to cause emotional harm, and libel to others as well as allowing fraudsters to scam other users and outsiders through pumping and dumping, rumour mongering etc.

Therefore could it follow, that by running an Internet message board service which allegedly does not strictly enforce a code of responsible action and allows profane or obviously libellous material to be presented via its service, companies like Yahoo could be providing the proverbial guns to would be cyber criminals and slanderers to fire their metaphorical bullets through cyberspace? Would they therefore share a degree of responsibility for misuse of their service and alleged crimes performed by users?

Oh my, you just described my greatest fear since this lawsuit by CSFB against the Elan Eleven was filed. If something like you just described really happens, I think it would spell the end of the message board system on the Internet. No site can afford to hire well-trained employees to read, judge and monitor every single post on every board nor should they be expected to spot every stock fraud when there are 8,000 stocks publicly traded. This is America and the enforcement of such rules or laws would require some very heavy-handed censorship which would also create a backlash among the public who might countersue if their posts were pulled because some censor at Yahoo or TMF thought the company they were talking about might be a stock fraud.

No one is smart enough to monitor 8,000 stocks looking for stock frauds, even the SEC has a very hard time keeping up. We eliminated having boards on penny stocks trying to help keep hypsters away, but heck we all know a stock doesn't have to be under five dollars a share to still be a fraud. We also have stock boards on The Motley Fool that none of the staff has ever visited. No web site could make enough profit to stay in business if such rules were passed or if they were sued because they were expected to uphold such very high standards. If something like what you just described becomes a reality in the future, I really think the message board system would disappear from the Internet. Only copyrighted content our management was sure wouldn't be libelous would be left for you to read. Ok Fool, just read the article and MAKE NO COMMENT...or ok we will let you at least write a letter to the editor. :) What a shame that would be, what a depressing thought, because losing the boards would be a great blow to Freedom of Speech and the free exchange of ideas among millions of Internet users and investors. The boards are the backbone of Fooldom and Foolish investing.

Some of the best ideas and analysis at The Motley Fool are contributed by some of our posters and to lose them would be a great, great loss to all investors.

Steve, lets hope this never comes to pass. Microsoft alone has almost 200 posts per day and try as hard as we may, we still miss a few posts that violate our rules every day. Thank goodness our community helps us monitor the boards but not every insulting or slanderous post is caught by us nor are they all turned in to us by our customers.

Thanks for your thoughts and I agree with you, lets hope this NEVER happens.

Keep Foolish and Prosper,

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