Federal Rules of Platform Procedure

68 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021

See all articles by Rory Van Loo

Rory Van Loo

Boston University - School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

Date Written: April 15, 2020


Tech platforms serve as private courthouses for disputes about speech, lodging, commerce, elections, and reputation. After receiving allegations of defamatory content in top search results, Google must decide between protecting one person’s public image and another’s profits or speech. Amazon adjudicates disputes between consumers and third-party merchants about defective or counterfeit items. For many small businesses, layoffs and bankruptcy hang in the balance. This Article uncovers the processes that these platforms use to resolve disputes, and proposes reforms. Other powerful businesses that intermediate, such as credit card companies ruling on a disputed charge between a merchant and consumer, must by federal law provide timely notice, a reasonable investigation, and other procedural minimums. In contrast, platforms have almost unfettered discretion. Under intense public pressure, Facebook recently began building an independent oversight board that can overrule content moderation decisions. But whether other platforms will follow is unclear, and Facebook’s oversight board has significant limits. If platforms are to continue as the primary arbiters of disputes in the information age, they warrant mandated procedures as did financial institutions before them. The procedures would aim to improve the administration of justice through public accountability and separation of at least one of platforms’ executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

Suggested Citation

Van Loo, Rory, Federal Rules of Platform Procedure (April 15, 2020). University of Chicago Law Review, Forthcoming, Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3576562

Rory Van Loo (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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