Dear in Christ,
Recently a couple of people have complained to me personally via email and private message about the issue of private messages being accessible by administrators on this site. I would like to expand on this topic.
1) This site is the property of the adminstrators of OrthodoxChristianity.net. We are also legally responsible for its content to a certain extent. We offer this site for free.
2) We must maintain the purpose of this site and protect our users--you--from unsolicited harassment. Let me illustrate two case scenarios from the life of this board:
Person A was a member of this board. He left and then imed several people to try and get them to quit when he had a personal fight with me. They did not want to continue to receive this type of communication.
Person B signed up to this board to specifically target ex-Catholics to return to the Catholic Church. These people complained to us to do something about it.
In both cases we resorted to verifying that persons A and B had in fact done as their accusors insisted. This was done by a check of the private message inbox and outbox.
Now, let me make something clear. It's not like we sit around and read people's private messages. Trust me, we have many better things to do than that.
Let me let you all in on something else: on *any* board they have the ability to check private messages, but we a) notify you of that in your user agreement and b) made the announcement in the board news section.
We only read private messages when complaints are lodged. We don't randomely monitor other people's messages. Nevertheless, you will want to know that if you delete your messages, we do not see them. Also, you are free to exchange email addresses with your contacts and use someone else's electronic media to transmit your communications.
We provide private messages as a service and we could remove them at any time. We don't want to do that but after I received the complaints I felt that I should put the facts on the table.
Some might bring up the questions of 1) legality and 2) ethics.
Legality: The Admins of OCnet own and pay for the space that your messages, public and private, reside on. You are furthermore notified of the issue upon signing up. Hence, we are fully in our legal scope.
Ethics: There is nothing unethical about the way we run the site. We give you privacy unless you harass someone and they complain to us.
Any questions, concerns, or comments are solicited in this thread and we will be glad to hear what you have to say. No new policies or directives have been instituted and so I have not consulted with my fellow admins about this, but merely am posting this in my personal capacity to set the record straight. My fellow admins may or may not weigh in with their opinions.