I've been warning about bad public judgments recently, and that's true and necessary – we simply aren't being kind enough (although, on balance, I think we're kinder than ever before). But, as with all things, we should look to both Type I and Type II errors. Are there concerns about us not being mean enough?
And of course, the answer is yes. The EU's new Article 13 restrictions on the use of copyrighted work create a regulatory regime that substantially limits the ability for genuinely necessary negative feedback online – in a format that only targets commercially successful public figures behaving very badly. Which is: commentary channels on websites like YouTube (not that there are many sites like YouTube – but showing precisely what someone is doing is tricky without video, often).
It also removes safe-haven-ish protections for YouTube, which means that smaller competitors will need the advanced technology that YouTube has invested at least 9-figures in to compete at scale – so congratulations Alphabet, subject of EU Anti-Trust laws, you now have an EU engineered monopoly.
But if someone cannot show you e.g. a massively popular celebrity (who's a former Disney show host) is trying to trick children into using their parents' money for online gambling, then how can you pressure them to stop it? How can you make an appeal to their other advertisers? Are you going to stop ABC News from showing his brother (another massively successful celebrity) laughing at a recent suicide victim, even if they edit out all grotesque imagery (if the laughing, inexplicably, doesn't count as grotesque for broadcast standards)? Are you going to stop movie reviews from using clips from the trailers?
The revised Article 13 does little to fix the problems that were apparent from the beginning, and I've heard concern that we may be entering a tripartite internet, where it's EU's Internet + China's Internet + US et al. I cannot overstate how dangerous this censorship regime is if it substantially curtails our moral authority to fight censorship in China – because, to be clear, the Article 13 standards have little basis in protecting copyright of authors. That could be achieved much, much easier – and already is, voluntarily, on YouTube. It turns out many people care about fostering creative talent. The current restrictions are so aggressive we will have a substantially different culture.
And, if the presence of negative feedback for extreme bad behavior is as important as I think, America will have a much nicer internet as well. Because words alone would not horrify people enough to have stopped Logan Paul. You had to be able to show a clip from his original upload and make commentary. That's how commentary killed the toxic YouTube "prank" culture. Negative commentary is the only defense against extreme misbehavior, and it's clear that commentary channels live and die by how reasonable their creators are. If you don't want a horribly niche audience, you can't take sides in political issues, can't favor a religion, can't have annoying grudges. To reach the wider audiences that commercial success (currently) demands, they need to speak to something we all want: decency in the public sphere. And they've been doing it reasonably responsibly. The EU will suffer for not having their voices, and gradually forget how much they're losing.