It's a social world out there.

Users, not site providers at risk.

Posted on: January 14, 2010

Social media is looked at very differently from other, more tradition mediums, for many reasons.  First the demographic for social media users vary widely. Many tween and teens take advantage of social media networks, thus the laws around it must be written and developed in different ways than that of other media outlets are used to.  Second, the content is monitored and edited in ways far different from other media. Virtually anyone can produce and edit content of social media sites, sharing, adding comments and pass along content is all part of how and why social media work. However, these things that have made social media so popular in recent years also make it far more dangerous.

Laws have been formed around social media in order to make an attempt at preventing harm to users.  However, users must realize that what they produce can be used against them and has nothing to do with the site through which they are communicating. There are many laws out there but, as explained by Kevin Fayle, is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This act of the first of its kind to make an attempt at regulating internet use.  It states,

“Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes website from any liability resulting from the publication of information provided by another. This usually arises in the context of defamation, but several courts have expanded it to cover other sorts of claims as well.

Thus, if a user posts defamatory or otherwise illegal content, Section 230 shields the social network provider from any liability arising out of the publication. Websites that, in whole or in part, create or develop contested information, on the other hand, are deemed “content providers” that do not benefit from the protections of Section 230.” (1)

Here we can see that even in 1996 (2), when the act was written, law makers felt it important to address defamation in internet use.  This act clearly starts that the network provider will not be held accountable for content.  It is important for users to be well informed on their rights around internet use, as well as the rights of the sites they are using.  Laws of this nature are ever evolving as new cases come about and new sites are introduced to social media.

As I continue with this section of my blog, addressing the legal implication of social media, I will continue to share cases of this nature, please feel free to comment on cases you are familiar with, as this area is one dealing with everyday changes.

1) Fayle, K. (n.d.). Understanding the Legal Issues for Social Networking Sites and Their Users. FindLaw for Legal Professionals | Law & Legal Information. Retrieved January 2, 2010, from



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