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There’s a question at the heart of lots of fights about digital life: Should we hold what happens on the internet to a higher standard than the old ways of the analog world?

That’s a link among the gripes about selling products on Amazon, distributing apps on smartphone app stores, trying to make a living on YouTube or renting homes on Airbnb. In all of those cases, people and businesses are complaining about the costs, rules and precariousness of activities that were even more burdensome in the olden days, if they were possible at all.

Some of these grievances are misplaced, and some reflect a fundamental anxiety about online life. The internet promised to upend the old ways, and it did erode the power of old gatekeepers, like Hollywood bosses or big box stores, that said yes or no to people trying to do what they love. But in their place…

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