CBC general manager and editor in chief Jennifer McGuire explains why the CBC reviewed their comment policy.

By Jennifer McGuire, for the CBC

CBC has heard from a number of Canadians concerned about our commenting space, the use of pseudonyms, and some audience submissions that violated our guidelines around hate speech, particularly with respect to the francophone community in New Brunswick.

These audience comments should never have been published. They should have been caught and screened out during our moderation process. These errors are regrettable. We sincerely apologize, and we’re committed to doing a better job of moderating online comments.

Allow me to underscore our position on comments:

  • We don’t tolerate hate speech. Our comment guidelines are explicit on this.
  • Thousands of comments are reviewed each day — a million each month — and on occasion, errors occur. We are trying to eliminate mistakes and we address errors with our moderators.
  • We provide a flag mechanism so the audience can alert our moderators to any comment they think may have violated our guidelines. Any flagged comment gets reviewed again.
  • Online commenting is a challenging issue. We want to ensure Canadians have a place to engage with us and each other, and to express themselves about what they see on our sites. But as anyone who has been on the internet knows, sometimes online comments offer more heat than light. We have been actively reviewing our commenting policies and audience engagement strategies over the last few months, including our current practice of allowing the use of pseudonyms. We recognize the limits of a “real name” policy. However, in the interests of encouraging civil conversation CBC will not allow the use of pseudonyms. We will have more information on this transition as it is implemented. Right now we are letting our users know this is coming but it will take some time to ensure we make this transition smoothly.
  • The vast majority of comments submitted to our site fall within our guidelines. On average, we publish 85 to 90% of the comments that are submitted to CBC.ca.

We will always promote and defend free speech, particularly different points of view on controversial matters of public interest. Our guidelines exist to ensure that debate on our sites is civil. Our moderators will do everything they can to make sure what Canadians see on our sites meets that standard.

This story was originally published on the CBC and is republished with the author’s permission.