Lonely Planet forced to shut Thorn Tree forum over inappropriate content
Lonely Planet has temporarily closed its well-known Thorn Tree community pages after bosses discovered some discussions breached editorial guidelines.
Some reports suggest content included references to paedophilia, an especially sensitive issue for Lonely Planet owner BBC after being rocked in recent months following allegations about former-TV presenter Jimmy Savile.
The community was closed a few days before Christmas upon discovery of the content and is expected to remain shut until bosses are “100% confident” that a new moderation system being put in place is working properly.
The BBC is not going into specifics about the saga except to say a “small number of discussions” were found to be inappropriate and therefore took the action to suspend the service.
No evidence of discussions concerning paedophilia were found on Thorn Tree, an official says. However, the forum will not resume activity until bosses are certain all inappropriate remarks and discussions are removed.
Alongside the Savile sensitivities, suspending the service couldn’t be any worse in terms of timing for Lonely Planet given the busy period of the year for researching trips by users.
An official says the Thorn Tree system, one of the original online travel communities which appeared on the scene long before the plethora of social travel sites began to materialise in recent years, has around one million registered users and currently attracts between 100,000 and 110,000 new posts a month.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.