Question:

Shalom aleichem kavod harav,

I’m a middle-aged woman with a frum blog featuring articles relating to emuna & charedi politics & social issues from a frum perspective.

I have a very strict comment policy openly stated on the blog, which among other things, prohibits any kind of lashon hara.

The thing is, sometimes people comment using their real name and amid an otherwise lovely comment, insert something about their “very difficult
14-year-old” or say something like “I want to use logic with my husband, but I know he won’t listen.”

If they’re using a fake name and there is complete anonymity, I let it go.

But if they’re using their real name, I’m uncomfortable publishing it.

A couple of times, I even contacted the commentator with a pleasantly worded request to re-submit the comment, minus the negative part about the spouse or child. (This has never been received well, by the way, though I try to word it as thoughtfully and inoffensively as possible, and people often don’t even remember what they wrote in the comment, so I think I will stop using the option of giving them a 2nd chance and quietly not publish any questionable comments.)

But I get particularly confused when a commentator uses her real name, but a very common first name. Like “Devorah” or “Sara in Lakewood.”

It’s their real name, but there are so many Devorahs and Saras in Lakewood, does it matter?

To compound things, sometimes “Devorah” or “Sara in Lakewood” have left previous comments on my blog (and other blogs read by the same readers) that contain identifying personal information, making them less obscure, despite the common name.

Also, sometimes their friends and family members read these blogs and know exactly who is commenting.

So people who know them could know who they are and the negative information they are publishing about their child or husband. Is that a problem?

I’m sorry this query so convoluted, but I struggle with navigating the issues of lashon hara and blogging. I’m very anxious not to mess up.

Even though it’s socially acceptable to kvetch about your teenager, isn’t it still lashon hara and therefore forbidden?

Under the various circumstances I described above, am I allowed to publish their comments? Or by refusing to publish such comments, am I being overly cautious?

Thank you very much for this very helpful service.
Some questions are hard to formulate and it helps to write them rather than ask them over the phone.

I really appreciate all the hard work invested in this site.

Thank you.

Answer:

Thank you for your kind words. Regarding your question, your are in a difficult position, because it is hard torun a blog of this type while blocking out all the potential lashon hora. This that the Chofetz Chaim says that if we don’t say the persons name that it isn’t lashon hora will only apply if the person hearing the lashon hora can not know who it is. However if the person can figure it out, or even if they can investigate and find out who the person is, it would be considered lashon hora. Therefore comments that people will be able to figure out the identity of the person being spoken about will be considered lashon hora.

Sources:

Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Lashon Hora Klal 3-4,  Chofetz Chaim Dirshu edition ibid ftnt. 18, in the name of Shailas Rav 1 chap. 7 question 9.

Tags: lashon hora

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4 Responses to “Possible lashon hara in blog comments and what to do exactly?”

  1. Thank you very much for the response. It’s very helpful.

    Just to clarify: Is it lashon hara for someone to say something like, “My son was so helpful in his preteens, but as a teenager, he has become so difficult”? Meaning, the parent has no toelet for telling me this (especially in a blog comment), other that to get it off the chest.

    Many parents feel they can complain about their teenagers because they ascribe the negative behavior to hormones, so it doesn’t seem like it’s the teenager’s fault. Ditto for wives who feel they can complain about their husbands as long they ascribe his negative attributes to common male/female differences, so it’s as if it’s not his fault.

    This dynamic occurs both on blogs and in real life.

    Yet isn’t this kind of complaining still forbidden according to the laws of lashon hara? Or am I misunderstanding something?

    Thank you very much.

    • Would this mother say this in front of her child/husband? I hope not! Therefore it is lashon hora even though maybe to them being hormonal doesn’t mean anything, but many people would be embarrassed by it. Therefore it is considered damaging information, and lashon hora

      • Thank you very, very much for clarifying everything. It’s so helpful. I really appreciate it. You should all be gebentched with everything good, and have continued hatzlacha with this website.

        • Thank You, and you too.

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