Not related to Discourse, but it reminds me of a story that happened in… 2001 I think.
Internet was way different at this time. Rules weren’t the same. Internet was still kind of “new”, ADSL was almost a luxury, and, most importantly, there were fewer legal regulations of websites’ content I believe.
A forum’s owner wasn’t responsible for their forum’s content, for example, from what I remember… Or maybe they were, but the Internet was way less regulated anyway.
I was a moderator along with other ones on a very large forum for a few years, on a section where nothing was being taken seriously. It was a fun forum, with of course little dramas like anywhere.
One of our members was a young boy (aged somewhere between 13 and 15 at this time I think), who was kind of mocked by the community for his behavior and how he wrote. He seemed so naïve and bizarre. One day, he was angry from being mocked all the time and said he would commit suicide in a very silly way. That made people laugh, as usual. We thought he was being silly again. And I, as a moderator (and others too), didn’t take that seriously as well.
The administrator of this huge forum reacted quickly. He fired all the moderation team from this very active forum section without any warning and banned definitively most (if all) of the members that mocked the message of this young member.
It made all of us, regular users but also moderators, understand that we weren’t living in a fictional world and that words had consequences. His decision was hard to swallow at first, and a lot of us didn’t understand why he reacted so “violently”, but he obviously made a good decision. It’s almost like he was the only one who grasped the seriousness of the situation.
It was a hard moment for a lot of people, but it was also a good way to make everyone learn that we weren’t responsible as we should have been, especially us, the moderators (that’s… Literally our job and we failed to the worst).
The young boy didn’t commit suicide, continued to post, was still considered weird but way less mocked (and sometimes encouraged in his projects) and things became… Both the same and different. The forum was still the same and still fun, but we all learned our lesson. No similar event ever happened on this forum for years and years after this, from what I know.