Directed Reading in Content Moderation

James Grimmelmann

Cornell Tech

Spring 2022


This is a directed reading course on contemporary issues in content moderation on online platforms. The readings will cover:

Course Logistics and Policies

The course will meet weekly. See the course policies for information on what I will do to make this course welcoming and beneficial for you, and what I expect of you to make it welcoming and benficial for each other.


This syllabus is at

Huddle: Bloomberg 370
Desk: Bloomberg 3 NW, near the bookshelves

The best way to meet with me is by appointment. Send me an email and suggest some possible times. I am happy to meet in person or to talk by phone or Zoom.

I hold drop-in office hours Mondays 2:30 to 3:15 PM in my huddle.

It is always fine to swing by to see if I’m free. I am generally around on Mondays and Wednesdays. But be warned that when I am on campus my days are usually packed with classes and meetings.


Your work for this class will consist of the following:

First, do the assigned readings and participate in class discussions.

Second, follow current events in content moderation. Read the following newsletters. (I will provide you with paid subscriptions to the ones that are not free.)

Third, you will be responsible for helping to compile an annotated bibliography in connection with a virtual workshop I will be conducting over the summer. (You are welcome to attend, but it is not part of the assgned work for this course.) In keeping with the law school’s requirements, the total written work product will be approximately 15-20 pages per particpant.


This course is graded pass/fail (technically S/U in the Cornell system). If you complete the assigned readings, particpate constructively in discussion, and do your portion of the writing, you will pass.


For additional readings and references on content moderation, you may find some of the following helpful:


We meet Tuesdays 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

The list of readings may change as the semester progresses. The field is not standing still, and neither will we.

January 25: Moderation Basics: What and How?

February 1: The Moderation Design Space

Additional resources:

February 8: User Participation in Moderation

Additional resources:

Lucas Wright, Automated Platform Governance Through Visibility and Scale: On the Transformational Power of AutoModerator, 8 Social Media + Society 1 (2022)

February 15: Notice and Takedown

February 22: Section 230

March 1: NO CLASS

March 8: Real and Fake

Additional resources:

March 15: Virality and Commerce

March 22: Coordinated User Action

March 29: Influence Operations

April 5: NO CLASS

April 12: Privacy

April 19: Competition

Additional resources:

April 26: Due Process and Transparency

May 3: Must-Carry and Must-Remove

May 10: Everything Is Content Moderation