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Everyone's a lawyer

There used to be one thing you would inevitably see when having a heated discussion on the internet. At some point, someone would compare one of the participants with Hitler or the Nazi’s. That’s been a known “fact” on the internets since long before I joined.
That rule was, of course, started in the days of Usenet, where it was difficult (if not impossible) to actually ban a troublemaker. These days we’re in the era of web forums and blog comment sections. It’s much easier to ban a commenter for being disruptive.
What is amusing to me, is how often I will see someone declare that the blog (or forum) owner is somehow legally liable for everything every commenter says because they have now taken the step of moderating comments.
Reality is slightly more complex. There is case law that holds moderators liable, and there is case law that doesn’t. This reality doesn’t stop internet lawyers from declaring, however, that the website owners are going to end up liable for all comments just because they moderated some or all of the comments.

Yet another reminder that Section 230 safe harbors still apply, even if the service provider is somewhat more involved. There are, obviously, some limits to that involvement, but if it’s merely moderating, or following the requests of users, it appears that the safe harbors remain — as they should. Mike Masnick

the Ninth Circuit held that s 230 immunity applied to a website administrator who selected, edited, and published the contents of an allegedly defamatory comment. Even if Plaintiff’s assertion that Defendant took active steps to publish the alleged comment on the Blog was true, such steps are not the type of material contribution to the alleged misconduct that the Ninth Circuit found in Fair Housing Council. Eric Goldman

Don’t be the internet lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

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