Open Thread Mondays: Taking Posts Down?

I received two requests last week to take down specific posts. I won’t say who asked, or which posts, but they weren’t the first time someone has made the request and it surely won’t be the last. My standard answer is “No, it would violate my readers’ trust, and would be a disservice to all.” Which I honestly believe.

But the two requests this week differed so starkly, and one of them I’m considering honoring. I’d like your opinion before I go ahead with anything.

Here’s the scenario for the first request. This one is typical:

A subject of a post – be it person or business – felt embarrassed by what we wrote or an image we posted. The post isn’t scandalous, or even necessarily negative against them, but for whatever reason they construe it as a threat. Apparently, they’d rather not be mentioned at all. Often times, they demand removal in unfriendly terms.

In these situations I give a resounding “No.” It’s sometimes difficult to do so, and I hate to upset those we don’t intend to. I try to make it clear that they are likely the only one projecting a negative or critical tone on it, and that in reality it serves to boost their profile in the community. Still, they usually turn sour at the rebuff.

The latest situation, and the one causing me to rethink an exception, goes as follows:

A subject of a post – in this case a business – had let loose some information that they weren’t prepared to go viral with. It wasn’t private, but they didn’t expect it to be popular either. The resulting success of the post drove traffic to their storefront, with a lot of people asking questions. The business wasn’t prepared for this, and it became more of a stumbling block, and as a result they pulled the information from their own website and asked that we do the same.

In the latter situation, I’m leaning towards removing identifying information in the post, or pulling it completely. Though the information has already been republished on other sites as a result, the business came to me and politely asked for removal. Though I’d hate to remove information I’ve already made public, I’m considering it, but am not sure if it will threaten your trust in our site.

So, the question stands. In the second situation, am I opening the door to alienating readers? Will removing it become a slippery slope to which other businesses can point when they ask to be removed? What sort of standard do you think there should be in Sheepshead Bites retracting information?

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