I’ve gotten several complaints from readers who claimed their critical posts were deleted from the message boards at AtlantaFalcons.com and they were then blocked from reading the boards. Here, from an AJC.com poster who goes by the screen name of Falcons Censor Critics/Crybabies!, is this:
“You know, Mark and Atlanta, I criticized Coach [Mike] Smith and the coaching staff as well as the entire team for the abysmal performance against the Patriots on their message board. It seems the FALCONS BRASS and ARTHUR BLANK don’t like criticism. I was banned from their site and not even allowed to read their message board as a result….NO CURSING just telling the brutal truth. If you are not a cheerleader , even in a terrible loss, they whine about the criticism.
“HEY, COACH SMITH AND ARTHUR BLANK, GROW UP!! If you can’t take criticism you’re in the wrong business. Watch out, Mark Bradley, King Arthur can’t stand criticism.”
In the interest of clarification, I called Reggie Roberts, the Falcons’ vice president of communications, and asked if the Falcons had gotten heavy-handed in the wake of their loss to New England. He checked and called back a half-hour later, saying this:
“We monitor and moderate our boards for language and content, and people have to accept certain conditions before they can post on our boards saying they won’t indulge in profanity or name-calling or baiting. We’re not in the business of banning criticism unless someone runs afoul of the rules to which he has already agreed.
“We had some instances this week of people impersonating other people and making personal attacks on other posters. But if someone wants to say [offensive coordinator] Mike Mularkey isn’t very good or to criticize [running back] Michael Turner, we won’t have a problem with that.”
I know Reggie’s words won’t satisfy some among you, but I should also say that we at AJC.com monitor and moderate our boards for language and content, and we do ban repeat offenders. I should also note that our policy for what’s acceptable might be considered more liberal than other message boards’.
But I should also note a rather basic human trait: Nobody likes to be criticized. Especially after a loss in the rain.