“Hate-filled tirades” force Yorkshire paper to remove comments

Stephen Chapman's picture

The Telegraph & Argus has removed comments from its stories after a series of “hate-filled, racist, anti-Semitic or Islamaphobic tirades.”

The newspaper explained that while it was not against a “robust debate” that a vocal minority of readers were intent on abusing the comments section.

“They lurk beneath even the most innocuous of stories to grind out personal grudges, rail against the council or the T&A,” it wrote in an editorial.

“It seems every comment thread these days descends into slurs about ‘third-world ghettos’ and ‘vile far-right savages’, to quote two of the more tame examples frequently used by repeat offenders.”

Such comments do fall foul of the T&A’s terms and conditions, but the paper found that when users were banned, they returned: “spouting the same poison under a new pseudonym – often within minutes.”

“We simply cannot stand by and allow extremists, no matter where they may fall on the political spectrum, to use our website as a platform from which to sow the seeds of division,” the paper stated.

“The decision to turn off comments, at least for now, has not been made lightly. It is intended to give the vast majority of our visitors a well-deserved break from the tedious juvenilia of a minority who cannot be trusted to exercise free speech without embarrassing themselves and offending others.”

It added that it would review the situation, which may lead to their return in the future. Facebook comments would remain open.