Tampa, FL asked in Business Law, Civil Rights, Internet Law and Libel & Slander for Florida

Q: Is owner/admin of public Telegram Channel resp. for content of posts, both personally created or forwarded from others?

We have a radical Qanon activist - self professed digital warrior- who is an elected member of our non profit, all volunteer assoc. She operates 2 Telegram channels & a Rumble site. Both have tons of antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-govt, etc content. I don’t know that it rises to a hate crime. Our leaders say this is not a assoc matter or risk b/c Section 230 law says she is immune from responsibility for anything on her site unless I can prove she PERSONALLY writes or says things these things. Forwarded content (memes, videos & links) can’t be a concern b/c of section 230. We do have bylaws & an Oath to be of good character . We work w/ local & state officials who I think will question our integrity if we choose to look the other way. I see this as conflict of interest at the least. She is a BOD Member & Officer. I also wonder if she fit for her leadership role due to extreme misinfo & conspiracy theories routinely posted onto these Telegram channels she leads.

1 Lawyer Answer
Terrence H Thorgaard
Terrence H Thorgaard
  • Freeeport, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: If she is a "provider or user of an interactive computer service", such as the "Telegram channels" and the "Rumble site", it appears that she is protected by 47 U.S.C. 230, other than with respect to content created by her personally. It would be up to your association, if warranted, to remove her as a director consistent with your bylaws.

Note that "hate crime" is more than "hate speech". It is a traditional crime but associated with hateful speech. However inciting violence could be a hate crime.

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