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Exclusive: Huffington Post Bloggers Told to Censor Comments Regarding Arianna’s Airplane Incident**

Courtesy of a kindly tipster, we get this glimpse of the way Huffington Post runs its free content ship. What you see here a HuffPo moderator page, with directives from senior staff posted in red.

Anything stand out? Let’s zoom in.

That’s right, HuffPo bloggers and staff are being told to censor all comments relating to Arianna Huffington‘s airplane adventures with her Blackberry. The note says airline comments are “off-topic on any article”–implying that discussing Huffington’s airplane diva antics in blog posts is also off limits.

Hear that HuffPostites! Boss-lady isn’t paying you good money to help tarnish her reputation…Wait, we mean, boss lady isn’t paying you any money but you still can’t tarnish her reputation! Or there will be personal-branding hell to pay!

*Update: We received this note last night from a very insistent HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz:

This has nothing to do with bloggers. It’s a backstage way for our moderators to post alerts to each other. The system is not accessible to bloggers nor HuffPost editors. Alerts are constantly updated and are to help keep the conversation on the site civil and to the point. Our goal has always been to foster a real dialogue, and so we always remove comments that are completely off-topic. Adherence to these guidelines helps our team moderate our huge volume of comments — now more than 3 million per month.

Our response: Ruiz writes the “system is not accessible to bloggers nor HuffPost editors”–but it is VISIBLE to them. At least the one’s who are allowed to moderate their own sites.

Food for thought: assuming it takes 15 seconds to read a comment and determine whether or not it’s civil enough to have on the site, it would take a person 12,500 hours to go through the three million comments Ruiz says the site gets monthly. It would take 100 moderators, working non-stop, with no breaks, 125 hours. Something tells us HuffPo needs the help of its bloggers to moderate comments. And something tells us that directives posted on the admin pages of all bloggers with comment moderation power, are meant as instructions for them to follow. Or maybe we’re just fucking crazy. I’m sure Ruiz will tell us soon enough.

Either way, what is clear is that HuffPo wants all mention of Arianna’s airplane incident scrubbed from the site. And the more they protest the more we get to talk about it.

**Update: One more note from Ruiz. Like Bill O’Reilly, we’ll give him the last word:

“We have a message board for our bloggers — if we had wanted to communicate with them, we would have done so directly. The screen grab is from a new bulletin board meant for moderators only. Bloggers looking to moderate their own posts would have seen the board. But less than one percent of our bloggers moderate their own comments.”

Previously on Fishbowl LA: Arianna Huffington Reportedly Escorted from Plane by Police for Cell Phone Use

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