Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Albert on Imagining a Community: Obscenity's History and Moderating Speech Online @KendraSerra @Harvard_Law @YJoLT @[email protected]

Kendra Albert, Harvard Law School, has published Imagine A Community: Obscenity’s History and Moderating Speech Online at 25 Yale L.J. & Tech. Special Issue 59 (2023). Here is the abstract.

This essay walks through the history of the “community” in obscenity’s community standards doctrine, arguing that the Supreme Court’s debates and disagreements about how to regulate speech in that context presage more modern debates over content moderation online. They begin by sketching the community standards doctrine’s history, from the dozens of cases of the 1950s-70s to how networked technologies from 1989 to the early 2000s exacerbated earlier debates about which community’s standards matter, and how they should be applied. Albert then turns to what happened when the Justice Department ended prosecutions of pornography producers for obscenity, and how the shadow regulation of payment providers has come to replace the (flawed) legal doctrine.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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