FOSTA-SESTA gets a new test in the real world. The edge reports that an anonymous woman has filed a complaint against Reddit for allegedly letting her ex-boyfriend post sexual images and videos of her that he took without her consent when she was 16. was abolished and had little success in securing a truly permanent ban. She must have “spent hours” going through sub-reddit to find the offending material and report it to Reddit, according to the lawsuit.
The woman claimed that the lack of action reported by Reddit violated FOSTA-SESTA, an amendment to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that removes the safe harbor protections of online services for content from sex trafficking. Reddit allegedly broke the law by running ads that made imagery a “commercial sex act” and knew that such material existed on its service while tolerating its existence.
This Jane Doe is pursuing class action status to include anyone concerned.
Reddit denied any tolerance in a statement. He said child sexual abuse has “no place” in his community, and that he has gone “beyond” the law by cracking down on this material using a combination of automation and human moderation. The company also pointed out that it has removed content, banned users and reported violators to law enforcement.
The case could help define to what extent FOSTA-SESTA applies. The amendment aimed to curb direct traffic to sites like Backpage. In this case, the woman argued that he was covering material for child sexual abuse, regardless of how it was obtained or whether or not the producer demanded payment. There is a real chance that the court will dismiss the allegations that constitute sex trafficking, but a successful extension of this definition could open the door to many other legal challenges.
This lawsuit also illustrates the limits of Reddit’s partially community moderation. Subreddit moderators are frequently invited by existing mods, with Reddit rarely being involved. While many mods are up to the task, the approach may leave users with few options if neither community overseers nor Reddit’s automated tools quickly catch an offender.
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