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Sister titles make fresh pledge to cut out racist and abusive comments

Richard DugganA group of sister newspapers have reaffirmed their commitment to cutting out racism, abuse and bigotry in online comments on its stories.

Newsquest newspapers the Bolton News, Bury Times and Lancashire Telegraph also say they want to keep their websites and Facebook pages free from being “absolute free-for-alls of abuse or misinformation” after explaining their commenting policy to readers.

The policy has been set out in an editorial by Richard Duggan, Newsquest’s group editor for Lancashire & Greater Manchester.

HTFP reported in 2019 how Richard’s predecessor Karl Holbrook had introduced a strict “zero tolerance” approach to comments after a Bolton News story about a 12-year-old girl’s death in a car crash prompted “disgusting” racist abuse.

Richard, pictured, wrote in the editorial: “We sometimes take the decision to prevent comments from being left – or turn them off after initially allowing them – when it becomes an absolute free-for-all of abuse or misinformation.

“The last thing we want to do is stifle debate and people are generally free to comment on the stories we share. However, we won’t stand for racist, abusive or bigoted comments.

“Nor will we allow people to spread hate or misinformation. Users of the website commenting system caught doing this – or those caught doing the same on our Facebook page – will be banned, and where necessary, reported to police.

“We really appreciate it when readers get in touch to report inappropriate comments to us – and we need you to keep doing this as it helps us take action quickly.”

He added: “To the vast majority who read and who make thoughtful comments on our stories, thank you.

“We appreciate your support and do our best every day to provide you with a trusted source of local news.”