Lancaster Newspapers Shuts Down ‘TalkBack’ Online Forum

By: E&P Staff

Lancaster (Pa.) Newspapers pulled the plug on its online TalkBack public forum Thursday morning, blaming the “blatant misuse” of the forum by anonymous posters of racist material.

President and CEO Harold E. Miller Jr. said strict user guidelines and the installation of software to screen objectionable language was unable to stop misuse that “can no longer be tolerated,” according to an account on LancasterOnline.com by staff writer Brian Wallace.

“Unfortunately, what began in 2000 as a good-faith effort by Lancaster Newspapers to increase reader interest in community news has provided a few individuals with a means to communicate hateful, abusive and unacceptable comments about their neighbors, area residents and the Lancaster community at large,” Miller said in a statement.

The newspaper noted the forum was criticized publicly recently by a local school board member “who complained about demeaning and racist comments about Hispanics, blacks and other minorities posted on TalkBack.”

This story has been corrected. A previous version stated that Lancaster Newspapers publishes both the morning Intelligence Journal and afternoon Lancaster New Era; those papers merged last summer.

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