Making 'illegal' content reportable to non-logged in users

I can’t see the report button when I am not logged in? Flagging a post as illegal should be possible for everyone who can view the post, not just registered users, right? At least I am not sure if you can require somebody to make an account and accept your terms of service before they can report illegal posts to you. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.


That is correct. You must be a registered user in order to use the flagging system. If not, it would be ripe for abuse.


Facebook has a prompt that literally says “Reporting content that you believe is illegal in your country is possible even if you are not logged in.”

Screenshot German:

yields this form:

Could that be inspiration for Discourse?


I’m not sure. I can see the value in that and we want to do as much as we can to support sites who want to be compliant, but I also am not sure we want to open ourselves up to supporting a form that can be submitted by people who have not been vetted by site owners. Those kinds of forms are notorious spam magnets and hard to control.

Can you share some more screenshots from Facebook in Germany, showing what happens on the next pages? Do users submitting the form need to provide an email address at some point?

Personally my inclination is to leverage the site contact email address which is on the about page on all sites. There is also the privacy notice and terms of service which provide an opportunity to reach out to the organization running the site. Perhaps we could help sites that need to make that email address and links to those pages more prominent in the UI, like on the login modal or in a footer.


Here is something a non logged in user can do.

Copy link of post. Visit Site about page.

Sent email to “Contact Us”

Pro over FB? Human contact.


I agree that having a contact email for legal requests and a postal address in the impress is not a bad start legally. I am not sure what exactly is needed to satisfy the Digital Services act. I concur that spam is a big concern.

Since you asked it splits off into several extremely detailed branches. In some cases there is even a form step where you can tick each individual penal code section for several countries. But they generally finish by the submitter providing email address. See example screenshots:

E.g. for copyright violations:

E.g. for privacy violations:

E.g. for individual violated penal code section on a country by country basis:


That is very interesting. Thanks! Looks like you can submit it without an email address. Facebook can provide this because they have a whole team probably just responsible for responding to these requests.

As a first step here my thought is to improve the About page, to move the contact email address up nearer the top and to update the language to make it more clear that anyone is welcome to use it to report a problem with the site which might include reporting illegal content that should be taken down, using DPA friendly wording. The About page also has links to the TOS and Privacy notice, if the site has set these up, so sites are covered but it requires reading and is not necessary quick and easy to find how to report a problem with content on the site. If the site has full contact details specified, then more of that can also be provided directly on the About page, like you see on the “Impressum” page on German-speaking sites.

Beyond that I wonder if there is more we can do to make the About page more discoverable in the UI for logged out users. Looking at meta today, logged out, I don’t even see the link to the About page because the first section is not shown to logged out users here. Maybe we add a link to it to the sidebar somewhere?

And finally, returning to the OP. Having seen the way facebook handles this I do see the value in letting anons also flag posts using the review system logged in users have access to. It could really help communities to stay clean and comply in practice with DPA.

But if we did that it would have to have all sorts of anti-abuse mechanisms built in. I can’t see us doing that anytime soon but it might not be a bad idea to collect ideas.

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Just spit-balling, but for non-logged-in users could displaying the flag on posts and having that bring up a pop-up with the site contact email be a thing?

Though we do also have the flag post allowed groups admin setting, which may muddy the waters a bit. :thinking:


That’s not a bad idea. I’ve made a rough mockup [1] but I can’t think of how to word it clearly.

Perhaps have a setting like below that sites can check on/off?

:ballot_box_with_check: Allow non-logged in users to flag illegal content

  1. I’m not Michelangelo when it comes to editing :sweat_smile: ↩︎


I would ask one question: should we care so deeply about one functionality that has been made because of giga size social medias, as Facebook/Meta and Xwitter, didn’t do enough and allowed (still allowing) such unlegal content?

And have you ever tried use that? I’ve tried. There can be somekind team somewhere, but all I reached was automatic bot-answer that told me that pure hate speech was actual just ok. Same thing with magic mushrooms. I don’t care if those are legal somewhere or what someone thinks ahout those, but EU-wide selling is a criminal act. But again, Facebook didn’t see it that way.

My point is if a forum has illegal content that its users, moderators and admins can’t find and see, there is no point to open new harasment channel for spammers. There is already email to use if needed. And there is absolut no legit demand to allow unregistered users flag something.

What Facebook is doing happends because they are the multi-billion dollar business why that demand came in the first place.

This is… an example of micromanaging or bikeshedding. Totally unnecessary fixing things that needs no fixing and gives just an illusion of fixes.

I think this would rather benefit the small boards than the big ones. The big Meta and co have enough cash that they can afford fines and defend or settle if they ever get sued for hosting illegal content.
Smaller boards can’t afford expensive lawsuits and benefit from safe harbor regulation if they can be reached and remove infringing content within reasonable timeframe once they know about it.

I would rather somebody tell me about e.g. some unlicensed, copyrighted picture that some user uploaded into my Discourse so I can remove it, than receiving a letter with cease and desist, damage claims, and lawyer fees in the mail.

I like @JammyDodger’s idea of showing a contact email or postal address for readers who are not logged in and try to report something as illegal. That way we are not opening any more spam channels while reducing the friction of reporting said content.

Again not legal advice, but this is the general idea.


So you basically say smaller ones can’t find clearly unlegal content without anonymous flagging system? When does this situation started?

The example about the unlicensed, copyrighted picture explains that for me. Even in a smaller community, it is not necessarily noticed that this image infringes someone else’s rights.

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Yes. And…? When comes need to flag anonym way?

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Why do you expect that person to sign up to claim their right instead of starting a legal dispute? If you want to encourage them to report it directly, flagging should be as easy as possible.

Well, that the way things are done. So yes, that is exactly what I am expecting and anyone should expect. No anon can’t claim anything anywhere ever.

I think you may need to articulate your point more clearly Jagster, I don’t think I’m following what you mean.

If we’re working on the principle that we want people to flag illegal/problematic content as it’s a helpful thing, then giving a route for anonymous users to also do that would seem like a potential boon. The downside, as mentioned above, would be it becoming a vector for spam and guff.

Finding a balance between those two seems to be the crux of what could be possible.

Also, I don’t think people creating an account simply to flag something [1] would be the ideal start to joining a community. I’d much rather they joined to participate than to report a post.

  1. (they’d also need to engage a little to get to TL1 first if the site is using the defaults) ↩︎


Just a note to follow up here. This is a bug with the meta theme - it should be showing in the sidebar, in the first section behind the …more link. That first section does show in Safari but not in Chrome on my OSX laptop, and it does show in chrome and safari on my iOS smartphone. I reported it here: First section of sidebar not shown to anons in chrome on OSX

I feel like that About link should be “above the fold” and be shown to anons by default, not hidden behind the …more.

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That is why I pointed out site contact.

The problem with using FB as an example of being able to flag content say illegal. Is there is no actual human contact and majority of the times flagging things there doesn’t do much. Like a clearly fake cloned account using a person’s profile and other pics etc…

Even with Reddit while can be troublesome you can get ahold of human beings vs hapless bots.

When one uses is I gift or tenor in reply gif. I would wonder how many of those animated gifs are properly licensed for use? With all the movie clips etc…