Ask SPLC: Do we have the right to reject advertisements?

Q: Is my newspaper legally responsible for online comments that someone outside of our organization may post?

A: If the comments are made by outsiders and not your own staff, the Communications Decency Act provides legal shield to you and your website. These protections apply even if you are aware of objectionable content or voluntarily screen comments for libel or profanity. However, if your staff members begin to rewrite any of the comments, you could become subject to libel as a “co-creator.”  

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.”

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