There are a few frum, Jewish news websites. They publish news from our community, and from the general population. They claim that nothing they publish is lashon hora, but sometimes I feel very confused about that. I want to know if they are allowed to publish certain kinds of news, but more importantly, if I am supposed to be reading this, or not. For example, they will write up about Jewish and frum people who were arrested and accused of crimes. Sometimes, they will add at the end, ‘Of course, they are innocent until proven guilty’ (basically:you shouldn’t believe this as fact yet). Where is the permissibility for them to write/me to read this? Why is it not lashon hora that someone committed a crime? It is not as though the whole world needs to know to ‘protect themselves’ from him, since sometimes the man does not do business with you or I. And to my understanding, even if something is considered ‘common knowledge’ (which it would not necessarily be without these website’s help), one is not permitted to spread it. I am not talking about situations where social pressure is neeed. Even IF there was circumstancial evidence, and one was allowed to believe it, it seems that it should still not be spread around. What is the permissibility to write/read this kind of news on a frum website?

Answer

Indeed, if the content does not conform to the rules of the Chafetz Chaim, there is no hetter to publish it or to read it. As to cases which are common knowledge, refer to Chafetz Chaim (klal 2) for if and when this applies.

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