Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

Apart from their assigned mod courses, 1L students may only enroll in courses offered as 1L electives. A complete list of these courses can be found on the 1L Elective Listings page. 1L students must use the 1L class number listed on the course description when enrolling.

276.33 sec. 001 - Hate Speech, Disinformation, and Online Harassment: Regulation of and by Internet Platforms (Spring 2023)

Instructor: Pamela Samuelson  (view instructor's teaching evaluations - degree students only | profile)
View all teaching evaluations for this course - degree students only

Units: 2
Grading Designation: Graded
Mode of Instruction: In-Person


M 3:35 PM - 5:25 PM
Location: Law 145
From January 09, 2023
To April 25, 2023

Course Start: January 09, 2023
Course End: April 25, 2023
Class Number: 32449

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 31
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 37
As of: 08/24 11:03 PM

In the mid-1990s, Congress passed a law that immunizes Internet platforms for wrongful content (e.g., defamation) posted by their users. In enacting what is widely known as § 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Congress hoped, among other things, to encourage OSPs to engage in content moderation to stop the spread of hate speech and other harmful content. This law has fostered incredible growth of the Internet economy and sites populated with user-generated content. Courts have so far interpreted this law very liberally.

Complaints are widespread, however, that platforms have abused this immunity, either by taking down too much user-posted content or taking down too little. As a consequence, this law is under siege because of the proliferation of online wrongdoing. Proposed legislation in Congress would significantly alter this law.

In addition to reviewing key cases and legislative options, the course will explore the challenges that platforms face when engaging in content moderation at scale and discuss the private governance mechanisms that online platforms use (and sometimes fail to use) to stop the proliferation of harmful content.

This course will consider, among other things, First Amendment limits on what the government can do to regulate speech that takes place on online platforms. Can the government require Facebook to stop disinformation campaigns? Can states require platforms to be neutral or stop "censoring" some critics? Will private initiatives such as the Facebook Oversight Board mitigate content moderation problems? These are examples of the questions we will have a chance to address in this course.

Attendance at the first class is mandatory for all currently enrolled and waitlisted students; any currently enrolled or waitlisted students who are not present on the first day of class (without prior permission of the instructor) will be dropped. The instructor will continue to take attendance throughout the add/drop period and anyone who moves off the waitlist into the class must continue to attend or have prior permission of the instructor in order not to be dropped.

Exam Notes: (None) Class requires a series of papers, assignments, or presentations throughout the semester
Course Category: Intellectual Property and Technology Law
This course is listed in the following sub-categories:
Social Justice and Public Interest

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