Under Pressure: Hosting and Unhosting Objectionable Content

Increasingly, platforms have been under pressure on a number of fronts to take down, moderate and/or stop hosting objectionable groups and content, such as content originating from white supremacists, alleged sex traffickers, terrorist groups and the like. The pressure is coming from political forces seeking legal reforms, such as the recently passed Section 230 exception for sex trafficking (FOSTA) and EU regulations demanding accelerated removals; as well social and public-relations pressures, e.g., public outrage over Neo-Nazi groups online after the violence in Charlottesville. As a result, platforms are shifting to a more hands-on approach to editorial control, attempting to refine their own values and community standards.

• What role do hosting services like CloudFlare and social media sites and other platforms have in excluding hate groups, and is there a danger in private companies becoming upstream speech intermediaries?

• What are the consequences for platforms of FOSTA’s enactment, and is the rest of Section 230 under increasing threat?

• What are the jurisdictional boundaries of removal orders from foreign countries, and what standards should platforms follow in deciding whether to obey orders from foreign removal orders from foreign countries?

• What pressures are coming from Europe to accelerate the removal of content, and what effect does that have in U.S.?

Ari Holtzblatt, Counsel, WilmerHale (Moderator)
Michael Bloom, Director of Federal Government Affairs, Internet Association
Evan Engstrom, Executive Director, Engine
Jeff Hermes, Deputy Director, Media Law Resource Center
Corynne McSherry, Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation


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