The internet is changing, and the freewheeling, anything-goes culture of social media is being replaced by something more accountable.
It felt like a dam breaking, or the changing of a guard.
Within a 48-hour period this week, many of the world’s internet giants took steps that would have been unthinkable for them even months earlier. Reddit, which spent most of its life as a lawless free-for-all, banned thousands of forums for hate speech, including the largest pro-Trump forum on the internet. Twitch — an Amazon-owned video-gaming platform not known for its political courage — suspended President Trump’s official account for “hateful conduct,” while YouTube purged a handful of notorious racists and punished a popular creator with a history of problematic videos. Facebook, under pressure from a growing advertiser boycott, took down a network of violent anti-government insurrectionists who had set up shop on its platform.
Taken independently, these changes might have felt incremental and isolated — the kind of refereeing and line-drawing that happens every day on social media.
But arriving all at once, they felt like something much bigger: a sign that the Wild Wild Web — the tech industry’s decade-long experiment in unregulated growth and laissez-faire platform governance — is coming to an end. In its place, a new culture is taking shape that is more accountable, more self-aware and less willfully naïve than the one that came before it.
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