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Moderators of Social Media Groups Have Some Immunity from Liability

Moderators of social media communities, such as Facebook groups, have protection if they need to edit or remove offensive posts in the group. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides some immunity from liability to “users of an interactive computer service” for policing the sanctity of the group. A moderator can edit and remove posts in the group, within certain limits. The statute focuses on material that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.” If the moderator’s edits change the content or its meaning, the moderator loses the safe harbor immunity and is deemed a publisher or speaker. As an example, Facebook even has specific guidelines relating to managing online communities, moderating conversations and establishing rules for the group. The Facebook guidelines do not specify what rights a moderator has to enforce the rules, but Section 230 may provide a framework for a moderator to determine that it is “otherwise objectionable” if a group member violates the clearly defined group rules.

 

Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com