SLANDER AND LIBEL ON THE INTERNET AND MESSAGE BOARDS
Question: Can an ISP or the host of the message
board or chat room be held liable for
defamatory of libelous statements made by
others on the message board?
Answer: Not in the United States. Under
47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c)(1) (CDA Sec. 230): "No provider or user of an
interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker
of any information provided by another information content provider." This
provision has been uniformly interpreted by the Courts to provide complete
protection against defamation or libel claims made against an ISP,
message board or chat room where the statements are made by third parties.
Note that this immunity does not extend to claims made under intellectual
Question: Must an ISP or message board
host delete postings that someone tells him/her are defamatory?
Can the ISP or message board delete postings in response to a request
from a third party?
Answer: No, they are not required to delete.
47 U.S.C. sec. 230 gives most ISPs and message board hosts the discretion
to keep postings or delete them, whichever they prefer, in response to
claims by others that a posting is defamatory or libelous. Most ISPs and
message board hosts also post terms of service that give
them the right to delete or not delete messages as they see fit and
such terms have generally been held to be enforceable under law.