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It's a forum discussing religious stances and personal practice.

Is it possible to request posts to be removed along with the account registry?

As i understand it, forums in general don't have to delete the content and so i wonder if forums dedicated to religion are treated in the same way.

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  • 1
    I’m being nit picky perhaps, but “can I request” asks us to assess your ability to ask them. “Are they required by law to delete…” is I think what you meant. Commented May 30, 2023 at 15:29
  • Thank you, you are correct. I am asking whether there are legal grounds for such a request.
    – user50579
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 15:39
  • If it's an SE site then you can ask that your user profile be disassociated from the post[s] -- or simply delete your user profile. The posts then remain but are anonymous.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 18, 2023 at 11:39

3 Answers 3

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The GDPR means that people can process and store your data only on a legal basis, and that they have to document their processes and their compliance within the rules.

They can process data

  • based on your (informed and revocable) consent,
  • in accordance with a contract with you,
  • if required by law,
  • to safeguard the vital interests of others (likely not applicable),
  • as a government agency (almost certainly not applicable),
  • and finally in a balance of legitimate interests.

The first bullet point is the easiest for them and for you, until you ask them to delete. Then they have to use another justification. A forum may argue that keeping discussion threads intact outweighs the desire to have them deleted. Here it may matter that data about religious beliefs is one of the specially protected categories. This might shift the balance of interests.

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  • Does "the user having provided the content under a CC-BY-SA license according to the Terms of Service of the forum" count as justification in accordance with a contract?
    – wimi
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 8:08
  • @wimi that falls under 4 and 6: you granted an unrevokeable license to the content and then others have a very strong interest to use the licensed material.
    – Trish
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 8:41
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Religious forums are not special

There are no special rules for a forum that deals in religious speech. If a normal forum may retain your posts, then a religious forum may too.

They have to remove all identification of you if you exercise your right to be forgotten, but can do so by anonymizing your posts.

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  • Maybe they can anonymise your posts but not if the content and style of your post could identify you when combined with other data.
    – Dale M
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 13:06
  • @DaleM It is very much so that either the style, the expertise or the aggregate of content makes it very easy to identify me, not to mention search engine indexing revealing the old & new usernames and furthermore tieing those to mentions of my real name on the forum. The admin is convinced that he need not do anything beyond redacting my name from the forum and renaming & deleting the account registry. I would like to contest the retaining of posts if there are grounds for it.
    – user50579
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 13:38
  • I was just making the point that the posts themselves may be PII. However, they can keep PII if they have a legitimate reason (like it’s part of a forum thread that would make no sense without it).
    – Dale M
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 22:24
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    The point is: nothing sets a secular or a religious forum apart, both have the exact same rules.
    – Trish
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 23:25
  • @Trish - Except religious affiliation is one of the protected characteristics listed in the GDPR (iirc), which might play a role. Commented May 30, 2023 at 3:11
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Article 17 paragraph 3 AVG of the GDPR states the public messages of a forum can remain as a necessary exercise of the right of freedom of expression. This means that a forum administrator can prevent the removal of messages. A member can request their user name be changed to a pseudonym if it is not already one. If it is already a pseudonym then forum administrator would not be required to do anything.

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  • Is this a ChatGPT answer? Commented May 30, 2023 at 17:54
  • @BlueDogRanch No, not according to zerogpt.com It just lacks citations
    – user35069
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 18:27

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