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Monday, December 21, 2009

QatarLiving.com needs to be careful

According to an article in the Peninsula a Qatari is demanding an apology from QatarLiving.com after critical comments were posted on the website.

The comments had in fact been removed by moderators, but it shows the difficulty in running a huge forum with thousands of posters.

I remember discussing this with QatarSocial.com, who told me that I was lucky to run an information website where I did not need to constantly monitor new content being added.

The article and the attack were not really fair on QatarLiving.com, especially as they had both promoted the event themselves and removed the offending comments - I personally can't see what else they be expected to do!

Interestingly, the post on Qatar Living that chronicled the article copied the Peninsula article word for word without linking to the original article.

This is another area Qatar Living really has to be careful with. Not only are Qatar Living users opening the website up to lawsuits should internet copyright ever be enforced (and those whose copyright is most often stolen, the Gulf Times and The Peninsula, would certainly have the resources to do so,) they could also end up having their website removed from Google's indexes and their adsense accounts being removed under the Digital Millenium act.

This would be a disaster. Qatar Living has been a huge success, not just for the website owner but also for Qatar. The website demonstrates that, online at least, Qatar has a measure of freedom of speech. (A measure, because, as the removal of comments show, Qatar Living, like all of us, practises self-censorship (which is really, censorship as Nigel pointed out in the comments).) What's more, it's Qatar's number one English language social networking site, and social networking, according to Google, is a prerequisite for e-commerce.

With Qatar and ICT pouring money and effort into developing IT and the internet in Qatar, Qatar Living is unlikely to be closed down any time soon. But the website does need to be careful!

Update: WeirdWeb has just pointed out that some Qatari students have set up an anti-Qatar Living page on facebook. There is some rather scary stuff on that page!