Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences: SESTA/FOSTA’s First Two Years
Volume 93, No. 1, Fall 2020
By Lucy Weisner [PDF]

This Comment makes two contributions. First, it adds to the understanding of the legislative history and impact of SESTA/FOSTA. Second, it suggests an amendment to the statute that would clarify the law. In Section II, this Comment discusses the history of internet liability and the SESTA/FOSTA law in order to contextualize the statute and illuminate its shortcomings. In Section III, this Comment argues that, while some initial predictions about the effects of SESTA/FOSTA were overblown, the law has had consequences far beyond its intended scope. As part of that argument, this Comment ultimately recommends that SESTA/FOSTA be amended to immunize internet companies that engage in good-faith efforts to remove offensive content from their platforms. Such a requirement would, hopefully, encourage platforms to engage in thoughtful moderation to remove offensive content without opening them up to additional liability. Given SESTA/FOSTA’s widespread and unpredictable impact, this Comment urges legislators to use caution when evaluating any amendments to further erode Section 230 protections.