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Over-50s social website Saga Zone is shut down over ‘racist, homophobic and offensive’ comments
Saga Zone will shut down its social network site completely on February 26Users say they will lose a vital lifeline when the website is closed
12:20 GMT, 6 February 2013
16:04 GMT, 6 February 2013
It is a social website considered to be a lifeline for elderly people who live at home on their own and find comfort in talking to others over the internet.
But over-50s group Saga has been forced to shut its network site down because it cannot 'afford' the man power to police 'offensive' comments.
It comes after dozens of its users have complained of being blocked from posting on Saga Zone, the group's social site, after 'trying to speak up for others'.
Over-50s group Saga has been forced to shut down its social network site which is a lifeline to many pensioners
It came after people were banned from posting racist comments on one of the forums but the recent block of people from the site were said to be unexplainable.
Yesterday Saga Zone released a statement on its website claiming it would shut down the site as of February 26 after its users were posting 'controversial and offensive content'.
Paul Green, a spokesman for the company, explained: 'There were some particularly vicious exchanges recently about the Middle East and some people were banned after accusations of making anti-semitic or anti-arab comments.
The Saga Zone website now has this message for users explaining it has had to close due to offensive messages being posted
'The majority are a good group of people
but a minority caused concern with offensive and potentially
racist or homophobic comments.
'We even discovered what I believe are
called trolls with multiple online personalities, because messages were
coming from the same computer – sometimes with names from both sexes.
'An online free-for-all might be alright for other social networks such as Twitter but expectations are different when there is the Saga logo in the top right-hand corner.'
Closed down: One angry user wrote to the director general of Saga, Ros Altmann (pictured) claiming people have been banned for no reason
But in a letter by former user Cynthia Arnold, 62, from North Yorkshire, written to the director general of Saga, Ros Altmann, it was claimed people were being banned 'for no good reason'.
Widow Mrs Arnold had been a member of the website for five years, meeting her partner on the site and having made many good friends over the years.
When her partner died from cancer last year, she found Saga zone supported her, enabling her to talk to people every day when she was home alone.
She wrote in her letter addressed to Dr Altmann on Monday: 'I use it every day. It gives me someone to say good morning to each morning and stops me feeling quite so alone.
'However, this came to an end yesterday when they banned me from the site with no notice. Over the last month or two a huge number of people have been banned for no good reason.
'My best friend on there, who has supported me day and night literally, since my Frank died, was banned yesterday morning.
'No notice, no reason, just banned, so that she could no longer post.
'In support of my friend I then posted on the site how grossly unfair this was. My friend, Chris, was the nicest, friendliest person you could hope to meet.'
Following a number of posts in which she supported her friend, she was removed from the site.
She added: 'Someone needs to get to the bottom of what is going on here. This site is a lifeline for some people who cannot get out of their houses.
'The loss of it will cause so much upset, indeed it already is by what is happening.'
Dr Altmann responded to the letter saying: 'I have been trying to get this addressed but have run into difficulties I'm afraid.'
A statement by Saga Zone sent to its users read: 'We are sad that the site has been used to post offensive messages and that we cannot continue to run Saga Zone with the threat to the brand that this content poses.
'This means that from today the forums are now 'read only' so you can no longer post comments.
'However, you can still access your account to retrieve your content. The site will be switched off from 26th February 2013.'