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Say I created an animal rights tool, in which most of the features are community developed and voted on by the community. Highly-rated users can create buttons without approval. I clearly am doing this for socio-political reason and so of course I would not allow poachers to create a subdomain.

In what ways can I restrict what users actually turn the site into? Would I put those constraints within the terms of use that each user agrees to upon first app usage? I am not sure exactly what I mean, either. I just don't want my app to be a tool of abuse and use against its original purpose: to prevent & reduce animal torture & murder.

  • One potential concern is that the more active you are in censoring or editing the content, the more that you are going to be held responsible for the content. That may not be an issue, but keep it in mind. – Ask About Monica Oct 27 '16 at 23:51
  • Something to add, the 1st Amendment (which is probably what you're concerned about) only prevents the state from quashing the free speech of citizens. A private citizen absolutely had the right to remove or ignore anything on their property that they do not agree with without infringing Freedom of Speech. The amendment only prohibits imprisoning you for what you say, it does not mean anyone has to provide a stage for you to spread that opinion. – SGR Oct 28 '16 at 8:00
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It's your site. You can permit or ban whatever you please, as long as it's not something you're legally required to have or to prevent. Simply say in the terms of use that you have a content policy on which continued use is contingent, and then list (with a clause on non-limitation) the generality of things that aren't okay.

For example, Stack Exchange is "community-developed". But as many Meta SE discussions show, that's not always enough to change something if the owners and operators don't want it to be. Spam, rude or offensive content, and copyright-infringing material are just some of the things you aren't allowed to do, regardless of what any user prefers, by fiat policy.

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You need to make it clear what level of control you exercise over content, in the Terms of Service. The basic idea is that you offer something to customers, they decide if they like what you offer, and they give you something in exchange. Both parties have some rights, as spelled out in the TOS. Just because it's your site does not mean that you get to take & sell user-contributed content – unless it's part the TOS. If you say you're gonna sell any content, then customers who can't stand that idea will go elsewhere.

The two basic rights that a site-owner typically reserves to himself is the right to "ban" users for egregiously bad acts, and the right to delete offending content -- these are judgments that you would make. It is not necessary to narrowly specify grounds for banning / deletion, and attempting to narrowly tailor the grounds is likely to lead to legalistic squabbles over whether certain specific act fall within that narrow definition.

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