Posted in trends

Who moderates your moderators?

Last year, we wrote about a rather straightforward case where a nutritional supplement company had sued the operators of the forum, because of some unflattering comments posted in the forum. The court quickly tossed out the case on Section 230 grounds, noting that a site is not liable for the actions of its commenters. However, Eric Goldman alerts us to the latest in that case, which is a bit more troubling. After having the case transferred to a different court, the supplement maker used a new argument, claiming that it was false advertising and that since a third-party “moderator” posted one of the messages, the site is now responsible. That’s basically how the company tried to get around Section 230.

The court, unfortunately, seems to have agreed. While it does note that has Section 230 immunity despite having third party moderators, it allows for the possibility that since one of the moderators may have posted one of the messages in question, the moderator could be considered “a representative of the site.” This goes against a whole series of case law, which Goldman lists in his post, and could create all sorts of problems for sites that use volunteer or third party moderators. Of course, this was just in response to the motion to dismiss, so the court could come back and say that third party moderators don’t make a site liable, but it’s worth paying attention to this case. As Goldman notes: “I really can’t imagine Web 2.0 succeeding without a robust cadre of site admins and moderators helping self-police an online community.”

If A Site Uses Third-Party Moderators Who Do Something Bad, Does The Site Lose Safe Harbors?

There is a lively debate around this on the article page.  Where I come down on the issue is a bit of a function of my corner of the industry.  I would NEVER have unpaid moderators on my sites for kids.  Too much of a liability.  If I do have 3rd party moderators, they are expected to comply with my high standards and I will do heavy QA to make sure of it.

Interesting topic, none the less. 🙂


I am a data & results driven Digital Media Influencer with over 15 years of experience in engagement, family marketing, scaling infrastructure and audience culture across a product’s lifetime from pre-launch to millions of users. Strategic Vision & Business Development: • Articulated corporate integrated digital marketing strategies for 10 children’s entertainment properties across multiple digital channels • Authored a comprehensive business plan for scalable online community infrastructure for internal and external partners and successfully participated in a thorough VC due diligence process • Increased sales revenue by 20% while managing 6 million dollars of annual revenue in existing business services. Production & Project Management: • Developed multiple 2D & 3D multi-player virtual worlds, online games & apps based on repurposed/original assets • Produced 12 animated 2-minute shorts for broadcast on television & developed animation production department workflows • Launched multiple major website redesigns to include more fan interaction • Led workflow & process optimization teams to improve operational effectiveness/productivity. Audience Engagement & Research: • Developed domestic and international audience research programs both on & offline for both parent and children audiences • Grew multiple audiences from pre-launch to tens of millions by using organic, as well as established marketing tactics. Team Management & Relationship Building: • Designed team management & organizational structures for multiple Web Content and Web Marketing departments including international remote teams of staff in North & South America, Europe and Asia. • Managed teams in multiple disciplines, including customer service, social media engagement, production, moderation, marketing, design, tech and content development. • Extensive client, vendor and partner management experience in television, licensing, digital, e-commerce & customer service industries

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