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Suppose a user posts problematic content on a service hosted by an entity (a hobbyist or a small business). The content is stored in databases provided by the entity. This entity may be storing these directly or using another service to store this content.

This service is similar to Google Drive. But the user cannot store more than 1-2 files and these files cannot be shared via a public url. Also, data stored on the servers are removed periodically.

Who is considered liable, in this case? The user who posts the content, the entity who provided the server? Or a 3rd party who actually stores this data on their cloud databases, rented by the entity?

Do DMCA safe harbors apply here if this prohibited content isn't copyright-related?

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  • DMCA is only around copyright concerns (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), so if the issue isn't copyright it doesn't apply one way or the other. Commented Apr 19 at 16:29
  • What is the jurisdiction? You mention DMCA, does that mean it's in the US?
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 19 at 17:32

1 Answer 1

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(Not an expert)

The user who posts the content is liable.

Popehat: Deplatformed: Social Media Censorship and the First Amendment

So, to address these issues, Congress passed Section 230. It’s been called the law that created the Internet as we know it, and it does two things. First, in Section C1 of the Statute, it protects websites and web users from liability for things that other people post.

Here’s the language. ‘No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider’. Now what does that mean?

It means that if I post something on Twitter or Facebook that no one can sue Twitter or Facebook as if they had posted that thing. So if I falsely accuse someone of being a convicted felon in a tweet, I’m legally responsible, not Twitter. That is huge. It makes social media and the broader Internet possible.

Twitter has about 500 million tweets posted every day. Twitter can’t possibly police them all to make sure they’re not defamatory or illegal. If they had to do that they’d shut down. Section 230 says they don’t have to.

(Emphasis mine)

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  • The language in the article you post says providers cannot be held responsible for what others post. It doesn't provide much clarification on liability over having this content stored on the provider's systems. I'm aware of DMCA laws on caching and data transition here. But this seems limited to only copyright-related concerns
    – razor_chk
    Commented Apr 19 at 4:25
  • @razor_chk If they didn't store and publish the content, section 230 doesn't even apply in the first place.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 19 at 17:36

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