Content Moderation in an Age of Extremes

19 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2020

Date Written: December 13, 2019


Where everything, including bad behavior, can be found in endless proliferation online, what if anything can be done? My experience leads me to suggest a few lessons. I helped found a nonprofit, the Organization for Transformative Works (“OTW”), which focuses on protecting and preserving noncommercial transformative works, specifically fanfiction and other fanworks—that is, new stories and art based on existing, often in-copyright, works such as the Harry Potter series and Marvel’s Avengers movies.

While some people argue for increased government intervention in the form of legal duties to remove various types of unwanted content, others maintain that the best solution is to reconstruct some sort of democratic process within a service’s “polity” itself, a procedural solution to knotty problems of substance. I want to complicate the debate by discussing the multiple types of actors in the intermediary space; some entities, like the OTW, don’t resemble the profit-seeking model at which most regulatory and governance proposals are directed. Other online entities, such as those that participate in the domain name system, have very different functions and abilities than the websites and apps most people think of as “the internet.” If we don’t keep these variances in mind, we are unlikely to get the results we seek.

Keywords: copyright, trademark, content moderation

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Rebecca, Content Moderation in an Age of Extremes (December 13, 2019). Case Western Reserve Journal of Law, Technology & the Internet, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2019, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Tushnet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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