In a move that observers fear may represent a setback for fair moderation of product listings – and of content in general – ecommerce giant eBay has announced that it is proceeding with a project aimed at allowing government regulators to remove items they see as “dangerous listings” directly from the site, with no need to consult the company.
eBay is also letting regulators – from some 50 countries around the world – decide that there is enough evidence that a listing might pose a risk to consumers, and once eBay declares these offices as “trusted authorities” their powers to remove items from the site will be unlimited. The company has not yet revealed the criteria that will guide this selection of state authorities it trusts to be making decisions in its place.
The company said the aim is to speed up and streamline the process of removal of listings, while the ones designated as dangerous will be considered either illegal or unsafe, and authorities will be able to delete them without further interacting with eBay.
eBay is talking up the project to wash its hands off responsibility for this type of online “moderation” as something that others in the industry will adopt as well, describing at the same time collaboration with authorities as “vital.”