Self-Regulation: How Wikipedia Leverages User-Generated Quality Control Under Section 230

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SSRN 2010.  Kathleen M. Walsh, Wikimedia Foundation Trustee and Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees; George Mason University School of Law, Sarah Oh, Operations and Research Director of the Information Economy Project, George Mason University School of Law.

As Virginia Woolf once wrote, “[T]o enjoy freedom, we have…to control ourselves.” In the market for online information services, Wikipedia has done just that. Wikipedia has achieved astounding success via self-regulation. Wikipedia promotes user-generated quality control not as a legal obligation, but as a commitment to its educational purpose and values of its fact-checking community. In doing so, Wikipedia has leveraged the purpose of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into consumer welfare. Section 230 protects sites that engage in “Good Samaritan” policing of harmful material, with no requirement on the quality or quantity of such monitoring. Interactive sites should treat the statute an opportunity, rather than mere permission to thrive in the world of Web 2.0: those who can productively self-regulate, should. Full text available on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1579054.


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