with Josh Wester
Last Sunday afternoon, conservative scholar and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center Ryan T. Anderson received an online message from a would-be reader that his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was no longer available for purchase on Amazon’s website. The 2018 release from Encounter Books had been pulled by Amazon, without any prior notification to the author or publisher, for violating Amazon’s offensive content policy (though it would not clarify the reason for the move for several days). By Wednesday morning, and after considerable public outcry, the company released a statement about the book being removed from the marketplace. Amazon said it reserved the right not to sell certain products that violated its content guidelines. The statement claimed “All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer and we do not take selection decisions lightly.”
YouTube is announcing “supervised experiences,” a new set of restrictions that allows parents to better control what content their children can access on the streaming video platform. According to a blog post, YouTube hopes the filters will help parents slowly introduce their older children to age-appropriate content and features outside of the YouTube Kids app.
While lawsuits against Google and Facebook crawl their way through the courts, a second front in Washington’s war on Big Tech is heating up, as legislators zero in on ways to draft new antitrust laws that take into account the unique traits of digital markets.
The move is a major victory for internet activists and state legislators who had passed tough new regulations in 2018 after the Federal Communications Commission rolled back its own net neutrality rules. The state regulations prohibit internet service providers from selectively blocking, slowing or speeding up apps and websites.
Twitter announced a pair of big upcoming features today: the ability for users to charge their followers for access to additional content, and the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests. They’re two of the more substantial changes to Twitter in a while, but they also fit snugly into models that have been popular and successful on other social platforms.
Facebook’s 3 billion monthly active users, its mountain of money and its control over the flow of information all put the company on an equal footing with governments around the world — and, increasingly, it’s getting into fights with them.