Department or Program



By the mid-1990s, the internet had taken new form outside of its original military applications and became commercially available at an unprecedented rate. Western democracies recognized that such a new frontier, therefore, necessitated regulation. Their shared goal was to restrict objectionable content while simultaneously creating a pathway for this nascent industry to blossom. With this in mind, both the U.S. and European Union enacted linearly different and mutually exclusive regulatory regimes to govern “online intermediaries,” or sites like Facebook and Twitter that merely host the speech of their users. The E.U. enacted aggressive content removal statutes, while the U.S. offered nearly blanket immunity to these sites in the hope that the marketplace of ideas would dilute objectionable content. Using the U.S. and Germany as case studies, this thesis argues that, twenty years later, neither pathway emerged particularly victorious in their quest to curb the dissemination of radicalizing content. I find that the failure under the German preemptive framework derives from a contradictory monitoring obligation and lack of oversight by the European Commission on the state. Conversely, I find that the failure under the American deregulatory framework is rooted in a contradictory allocation of jurisdiction and a lack of oversight by the state upon intermediaries. By scrutinizing the incentive structures of both countries’ regulatory regimes, this thesis challenges the way Western democracies conceptualized and continue to conceptualize the internet and points out how neither extreme has responsively moderated internet speech.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Grahame, Alyssa

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf

Open Access

Available to all.