The Mail Online has a serious problem with its moderation policy and racist comments.
For the second time in a week, comments on a race-related story have revealed the unpleasant nature of some of its readers, the drawback of its moderators apparently clocking off overnight, and the difficulty of moderating hundreds of comments.
The pub couple branded black on their bill - and illegal immigrants by the Mail's readers
The Mail ran a story on Tuesday called "Pub apologises after calling couple 'black' on their bill - when they were the only customers dining". One waiter had written that they were 'black' on their order to help the servers - the couple were unhappy when they noticed this (apparently the pub doesn't use table numbers - or have more than one black customer at a time...).
You can guess what happened - the this-is-PC-gone-mad lobby went into overdrive with their comments.
But one comment is particularly disturbing. Comments on this story were pre-moderated, so for starters it is fairly shocking that this was allowed through:
"Next step in this tale is a trip to claims indirect to screw money from the system. They better not to try too hard as their status to live in this country might be exposed if they had told porkies to get to live here."
There is no suggestion in the story that they are anything other than UK citizens. But by midnight last night, this had been voted up to a score of +234 (the Mail has a simple 'click to rate' system, where anyone can rate up or down a comment - an aggregate score of positive minus negative votes is shown).
The comment stayed at the top of the newest list overnight - although it was submitted at 4pm, no further comments were approved on that story (I suspect because the moderators hadn't got to any others before stopping for the day).
Come this morning, no more comments have been published by 11am (such as mine from midnight last night saying I thought this comment was despicable). But this comment had been voted up to +566 by 11am.
By 11.30am, some more comments were published (not mine) and this one had finally been removed.
Dead migrant: 'Good news, one less to worry about"
This incident follows one from a few days ago about the death of a migrant in the back of a lorry.
Again, comments were approved saying things like:
- "One down, millions to go"
- "Good news, one less to worry about"
- "Saved us a house, car and free money then"
These comments stayed there a couple of days, until Mail Watch blogged about them. The Mail then removed them (although bizarrely left a couple up for much longer than others).
The Mail's problem
The Mail recently announced it wanted to remove pre-moderation from many of its stories. I've noticed that it has hardly done this.
One reason must be the difficulty they have with people publishing and voting up this sort of shameful stuff - glorifying in foreigners' deaths and branding people illegal immigrants just because they are black.
On top of this, they get hundreds and hundreds of comments on stories - so they must (and clearly do) struggle to moderate them in a timely manner, especially as the moderators don't appear to be working nights.
And their moderators don't seem to be able to recognise - or are told to wave through - straightforward racism.
All in all, a shocking state of affairs. I'm sure (hope?) this isn't a deliberate policy to appease its more rabid readership. And who knows what advertisers make of this (especially after the Jan Moir affair).
But even if it's just poor judgment the Mail should be ashamed of itself - and most of all of its readers. Let me know what you think in the comments, below.