I never expected it would be my teen daughter that I would catch checking out a porn site. Apparently, she stumbled upon it by accident, and I was walking by the “family computer kiosk” at just the right (or perhaps wrong) moment.
Her story (which I have no reason to disbelieve) is that, while doing research for a school paper, she clicked a link on a completely “safe” website, and ended up there. No one got in trouble, and we all moved on with our lives. But the incident got me thinking. Should web professionals be held accountable for the content that is linked to and from their sites?
Know Your Content
Of course, anyone updating an online presence — be it a website, blog, or even social media account — should be well aware of the outbound links they are displaying. But what happens when those links change, or when the sites those links point to get taken down, or even hacked?
A reasonable content audit is expected, but it is inefficient and even unrealistic to expect site owners to go through every single piece of content they have ever posted, in some cases going back several years. Further, I don’t know of anyone who routinely audits their Facebook page.
So in most cases, questionable content is not realized until it is caught by someone else. That could present an awkward and embarrassing situation for the content owners.
The other side of things concerns websites that are linking to your content. In some cases, you might not even know this is happening. Spamming and phishing may become the least of your worries.
If, for instance, you are being linked to from a variety of unsavory sources (porn, etc.), it won’t take long for your site to get referenced as an akin member — meaning search engines could begin indexing your site in the same categories as porn. That’s fine if you’re a porn site, but completely the opposite if you’re not!
A good rule of thumb to follow is to perform regular audits on your current and recent content, and to purge or archive content that you no longer plan to audit. Doing so may prevent you from a future uncomfortable scenario.
by Enid Ahylhienatta
Residential Life Magazine