Setting up a Mastodon instance: Legal, compliance, privacy and more

Setting up a Mastodon instance: Legal, compliance, privacy and more


Welcome, Fedizens!

This page, prompted by the #TwitterMigration of late 2022-23, is intended to be a rolling, continually updated collection of legal (and law-adjacent) links and resources for those deploying or administering their own Mastodon instances (servers). There are undoubtedly many superior guides out there from a technical or operational perspective; my focus here is on three broad areas:

  1. Legal:  Legal, compliance, regulatory, privacy (“data protection” in EU parlance), intellectual property (especially copyright, e.g. DMCA safe harbor), online liability (e.g. Section 230 in the US), judicial and legislative developments and threats

  2. Trust and Safety (T&S):  Risk, abuse, harassment, spamming, scams, stalking, threats, phishing, doxxing, violent or hateful speech, dangerous dis- or misinformation, platform manipulation, data security breach, surveillance

  3. Content Moderation:  Involving features of both of the above, as problematic content and misconduct in social media poses threats both to site or platform owner/operators (from a legal/liability perspective) and to the communities themselves (degrading or destroying trust, collegiality, community, signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, overall value and usefulness) 

But first, a brief pep talk courtesy of EFF:

“I worry that people will not want to host instances at all, because they go, ‘this is too scary,’ says Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit focused on civil liberties in the digital world. “But it doesn’t have to be scary.”

 

OK, now on to the good stuff!

 

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Living in Palo Alto before the Internet?!

Living in Palo Alto before the Internet?!

Downtown Palo Alto was sleepier than today, with much less office space and more typical “main street” retail (e.g., Radio Shack, Men’s Wearhouse, Jim’s coffee shop, Swensen’s ice cream, mom-and-pop bakeries and pharmacies), a good blend of restaurants and casual eateries. There was no Starbucks yet, let alone Blue Bottle or Philz. That soaring, airy space on University Ave. that houses the glittering Apple Store was a dumpy but beloved food court called Liddicoat’s, packed with stands offering a wide range of cheap ethnic cuisines to downtown workers and shoppers at lunchtime. Continue Reading

Copywrong: Brilliantly Disruptive Startups from Napster to Pinterest

The law simply hasn’t kept pace with the largest upheaval in the distribution and consumption of content in human history, which has taken place in less than two decades since the consumer Internet was born in 1994. To a large extent, members of the general public have little idea what copyright is, how it works, or how it applies online, if at all. Continue Reading

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