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Mind Your Posts

You want your blog to attract a lot of search engine traffic, but if you go too far there's a risk that someone will sue you.

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This story appears in the March 2009 issue of Start Up.

Q: I am setting up a social networking for people who enjoy and participate in a certain type of extreme sport. I'm a little concerned that I will not be able to control what people are saying on the site. Can I get into legal trouble because of something someone says in a post? What about an "official" blog I will be writing as part of this site?

A: Generally, just as newspaper publishers are not liable for statements made in letters to the editor, a website owner is not responsible for libel, invasion of privacy or other legal violations in Web 2.0 postings unless the owner actively participates in the wrongdoing. For example, if someone posts a blog entry accusing a certain athlete of "using steroids for years," and your online editor responds by saying, "Yeah, everybody knows that," you have inserted yourself into the discussion, and there may be some liability for you there if the statement isn't 100 percent true. To avoid liability for Web 2.0 postings:

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