Should the Star take down readers’ letters to the editor published on its website?
By Kathy English for the Toronto Star
The Toronto Star has been more than a newspaper for some time, having evolved in the past 20 years from providing news on paper to become a multi-platform digital news and information organization.
The Star now publishes its content in the paper, on its website, thestar.com; on its new tablet app, Star Touch; and also on its mobile app. While not all content is always published on all these “platforms,” all content can potentially be published in any of these ways. That fact applies to articles written by staff and also to content submitted for publication by readers.
Given this reality of multi-platform publishing, I was quite surprised to receive three requests in recent weeks from readers seeking to have their published letters to the editor removed from the Star’s website. One of the letters was published in 2010, another in 2011 and the third, last month. All expressed views on matters of public concern.
Two of these readers contend that they did not know the letters they submitted for publication would not only be published in the Star’s print editions but also online. Now, they tell me, they do not want these letters — and their names — coming up in Google searches. One letter writer suggests that online publication of her letter violates her privacy rights.