Suggestion for investments and the threat of libel

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ReaperReaper Forumite
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On the savings and investment board this occurs regularly
* Somebody posts about an investment that looks dodgy
* Regulars say it looks dodgy
* The company lawyers threaten MSE
* MSE takes down the thread

I can fully understand to keep the thread up would involve much staff time on a subject they freely admit they know little about (investments) and there is the risk of libel.

The trouble is these companies know all they have to do is threaten (even when they know they have no case) and MSE will remove anything negative about them, even when it is true.

So my suggestion is to turn this about and make this something MSE campaigns on to protect innocent investors. That you employ somebody who knows about investments and the law to actively manage these threads, and even start new ones.

Huge sums of money are taken from unsophisticated investors who don't realise terms like "guaranteed", "asset backed securities", "100% payment record to date" and "ISA/pension approved" are meaningless in the unregulated investment world.

I can't think of a better use for MSE resources than protecting these people from the sharks.

Replies

  • edited 23 March 2021 at 8:44PM
    ReaperReaper Forumite
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    edited 23 March 2021 at 8:44PM
    Mickey666 said:
    Far simpler and cheaper to just take down anything that looks vaguely contentious.
    That's the situation now. The trouble is these companies are deceiving unsophisticated people, often the elderly, who often don't understand their "guaranteed fixed rate bond" is an unregulated, unprotected, high risk investment and not the savings product it sounds like. 2019 was the worst year thanks to the LC&F scandal where around £1 billion was lost but it has barely slowed down since then, and all too often it's people putting in their life savings.

    My suggestion certainly wouldn't be a money earner for MSE, but worthwhile IMO.
  • edited 23 March 2021 at 9:01PM
    RG2015RG2015 Forumite
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    edited 23 March 2021 at 9:01PM
    I wonder if the big man himself could add this to his list of hobbyhorses. All it would need is a section on the main MSE.

    Once he gets up a head of steam he is not one to be put off by a few corporate lawyers.
  • coyrlscoyrls Forumite
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    Instead of taking the whole thread away, why not just remove the company name from the posts?  Usually, the posts in these threads are relevant to any number of dodgy companies.
  • A_TA_T Forumite
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    The law is supposed to serve the people it's sad to see how easily it can be weaponised to serve the malevolent.
  • dales1dales1 Forumite
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    coyrls said:
    Instead of taking the whole thread away, why not just remove the company name from the posts?  Usually, the posts in these threads are relevant to any number of dodgy companies.
    Agree.
    Or, redact occasional characters from the company name, to abate the direct reference whilst leaving some clue to the name being complained about.

  • edited 23 March 2021 at 10:04PM
    masonicmasonic Forumite
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    edited 23 March 2021 at 10:04PM
    coyrls said:
    Instead of taking the whole thread away, why not just remove the company name from the posts?  Usually, the posts in these threads are relevant to any number of dodgy companies.
    The benefit to naming the companies in these threads is that people have found the thread by searching the company name. It would be very easy for MSE to periodically run a news article about how to spot a scam, or that you shouldn't look for the "best ISA rates" via google search or facebook ads, but specific threads about active scams serve a different purpose. The problem is that quite often the thread is started by someone who is considering parting with money, and they are unwilling to give their contact details to MSE, so MSE has no choice but to take down the allegedly libellous post. Editing it sufficiently so that the company could no longer be identified (which is no doubt what would be required), would take a lot of effort and leave a thread that was generic and of little value. If people sought out and heeded general advice about scam avoidance, we wouldn't be getting weekly threads about "investment opportunities" people had found.
  • MaxsonMaxson Forumite
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    Mickey666 said:
    Reaper said:
    Mickey666 said:
    Far simpler and cheaper to just take down anything that looks vaguely contentious.
    That's the situation now. The trouble is these companies are deceiving unsophisticated people, often the elderly, who often don't understand their "guaranteed fixed rate bond" is an unregulated, unprotected, high risk investment and not the savings product it sounds like. 2019 was the worst year thanks to the LC&F scandal where around £1 billion was lost but it has barely slowed down since then, and all too often it's people putting in their life savings.

    My suggestion certainly wouldn't be a money earner for MSE, but worthwhile IMO.
    Of course you would think it worthwhile if you weren't footing the bill.  In that respect I'd agree with you.
    But what would you think of the idea if MSE funded it by requiring an annual subscription for, say, £20 for using this forum?
    MSE makes a fortune out of links on this site as far as I know so there should be money in the pot for this sort of action against fraud.
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