FriendsReunited installs libel panic button

Will teachers sue?

The immensely successful FriendsReunited has fallen foul of teaching unions because users are slagging off their former teachers.

FriendsReunited enables users to find and make contact with old school friends. You visit the site, search the list of schools, of which there are more than 40,000 listed, and name yourself in the appropriate listings. If you pay £5 you can even communicate with your old school chums - although why you would want to do that is beyond us.

However some ex-pupils are now taking this great opportunity to slag off their old teachers. And some of the criticisms encroaches into serious libellous territory( "...he tries to look up your skirt"; "...it was great the day he got pissed in school".) There are even accusations of paedophilia, according to The Observer, http://www.guardian.co.uk/internetnews/story/0,7369,591987,00.html">which broke the story.

The teaching unions are taking considerable umbrage and are threatening legal action, unless the abuse stops.

Clearly, it is unfair for teachers and ex-pupils to be the subject of online attacks. And as the site grows, as it inevitably will, forum comments will get more difficult to manage.

FriendsReunited is taking this problem seriously and has created an "Abuse" button which can be pressed to have dubious comments removed. However, it takes just one litigious teacher to see inaccurate and abusive comments about him or herself, to start the prosecution ball rolling.

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