[UPDATED] Hearst site bans the word ‘fracking’ in comments

Anti-fracking activist Sharon Wilson — “likely the only person in Texas who gets paid for helping Texans who are negatively effected by oil and gas development” — tips Romenesko readers off to Hearst Connecticut Media Group’s ban on the word fracking in the comments section.

In an email to Wilson, executive producer Mickelson acknowledges that “there is nothing unsettling about the word ‘fracking,’ and it is an important issue in current events [but] that doesn’t stop others from using the term inappropriately in an entirely different context.”

Wilson’s reaction: “Fracking is a real word. It is used by real — often angry — people to describe impacts to their vital natural resources, health and long-term well-being. …Banning all comments using the word fracking effectively prevents a large segment of the populace from exercising their First Amendment right.”

Wilson tells me she hasn’t come across any other comment sections that ban the word.

(Here’s what Urban Dictionary says about fracking.)

* New fracking ban in the U.S. (texassharon.com)

UPDATE: Sharon Wilson sends this follow-up:

On Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM, Mickelson, Brett wrote:


It was a technical issue tied to anti-profanity screening. It has been fixed to allow the word “fracking” to appear in our comments section. It was never a policy here or elsewhere at Hearst.

Thank you.

Brett Mickelson
Executive Producer
Hearst Connecticut Media Group