Suppose the contents are rated in the same way motion pictures are rated, and the users are warned before hand and are given the option to turn safety on and off.

References to antecedent lawsuits and court decisions are very much appreciated.

  • 1
    DMCA is a good place to start anytime you think about sharing users' data. If this a criticism of SE moderation it probably belongs on meta. I'm also uncertain who is rating, that seems harder than moderation.
    – user4460
    Jun 24 '17 at 16:49
  • 5
    You could read up on 4chan's history to get some idea. The thing that's going to get you in legal trouble first is likely going to be people posting child pornography for the lulz. Jun 24 '17 at 16:50
  • It involves law and much more. Suppose you are totally legal, but someone is nevertheless offended. The offended party may do a in-depth search on you and find a police record of indecent behaviour toward a senior and launch a counter attack on you.
    – George Chen
    Jun 24 '17 at 16:51
  • 1
    @GeorgeChen Well, don't engage in indecent behavior towards a senior, I guess. What you are culpable for as the owner of a user-posting driven site is probably narrow enough to be on-topic, but what some hypothetical person might try to do to shut down your site or ruin your life as the owner is too broad no matter where on se you post it. Jun 24 '17 at 16:54
  • The point is: even if someone's freedom of speech is protected by law, he is still vulnerable to persecution-motivated legal harassments, unless he is granted some sort of immunity similar to diplomatic immunity.
    – George Chen
    Jun 24 '17 at 17:32

Mostly defamation, and copyright infringment

Possibly incitement of violence and other forms of illegal speech.

If answers/comments on your site allows images to be posted then it is possible to inadvertently host child pornography

Basically your website can get in trouble because it can be illegal to post certain things (e.g. long passages from a book, defamatory statements etc). Since your website is technically keeping those things on the internet for everyone to see, it can get into legal trouble if due diligence isnt done to ensure such things are removed from the site in a reasonable way and amount of time

  • I have to object at omitting child porn, which is the most severe consequence. If, as in on SE, you can post files, you can post felony porn. I don't think there are any forms of "illegal speech" in the US that have criminal consequences which are applicable to online postings – you can't "incite" online.
    – user6726
    Jun 26 '17 at 19:29
  • I was thinking in terms of text (the question refers to a q and a site, whicb traditionally holds text answers) but I suppose nowadays such sites often allow images as part of their answers (answer edited). To the question of "illegal speech" (for lack of a better term) i believe things like threatening the president of the united states (in a US jurisdiction) or telling someone to commit suicide may be examples. Unlikely situations but the latter one may be one to consider seriously Jun 26 '17 at 19:45

Online hate speech won’t incur consequences unless it veers into the territory of “incitement to imminent lawless action or true threats,” according to the First Amendment Center (www.firstamendmentcenter.org/hate-speech-online).

So, yes, it can bring consequences but it’s an exceedingly difficult level of speech to reach. The incitement portion requires imminence - if the speech leads to violence in the future, it’s still protected. It’s not until the speech leads to violence “right now” or imminently, that it would draw repercussions for the poster. The latter portion requires an affirmative actual threat against somebody: think “I’m going to ____” instead of “Somebody should _____”.

  • 1
    I maintain that there is no credible online incitement, since online is inherently not immediate. If you think there is a plausible situation which crosses that line, you should describe it.
    – user6726
    Jun 26 '17 at 23:28
  • The online world is immediate to a significant minority, if not majority of people in many countries. There are multiple daily incidents of someone setting off a physical fight using online incitement in some areas. Your maintained statement is simply out of date in the world today.
    – Nij
    Jun 27 '17 at 4:19
  • How is online not inherently immediate? I concede that, for example, making a Facebook status update encouraging a violent act would not meet the "imminence" standard if somebody, as soon as they read it, went out and followed through on that suggestion - SCOTUS has said as much. SCOTUS also declined to say imminence cannot be met online and because it is not in the business of rendering judgments on matters that have not come before it, that is to be expected. Here's an easy one: Facebook Live. Someone broadcasts an incitement and someone follows through within seconds. That's not imminent?
    – A.fm.
    Jun 27 '17 at 7:00

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