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Conor Sen

Disney+ Could Bring Streaming Peace to the Wild West

There’s plenty of demand for a service where anything-goes isn’t the norm.

Change agent?

Change agent?

Photographer: Nick Agro/AFP/Getty Images

For much of the past decade, the digital media landscape has largely been defined by disruptive companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Netflix. In the case of Facebook and YouTube, those disruptors are now seen as problematic; both face accusations that their platforms have become venues for privacy invasion, misinformation, malicious foreign actors and domestic political extremism. As the federal government weighs regulating these companies this creates an opening for platforms that are well-policed with the potential to take market share from the incumbent bad actors. That suggests the introduction of Walt Disney Co.'s new Disney+ video-streaming service couldn’t have been better timed.

Disruptive platforms grew to enormous size by doing pretty much whatever they could to attract both producers and consumers of content. Restrictions on what kinds of content could be published were barriers to growth while also raising thorny ethical questions about how platforms that claimed to be neutral could moderate content on their networks. Content moderation has a big drawback: It's expensive, whether that means building technology to monitor abuse or hiring humans to do the job. It's not too surprising that companies interested in holding down costs and maximizing profits might try to avoid those costs.