Many Americans on the Right and Left worry about the power of Silicon Valley’s tech titans. It seems these very large companies have become a power unto themselves and answer virtually to no one. They believe it is their right to censor thoughts and ideas, and restrict the flow of information according to whatever standards they desire.
They also make astronomical profits, which gives them the freedom to buy almost whatever they want—be it to stomp on any upstart competitor that looks like a threat, or to curry favor with politicians, media, and thought leaders of all stripes. But this is also their Achilles heel.
How would it be if we could set up a process to take the profit out of social media and search and to thus forever free us from these tyrants?
Some on the Right have expressed a desire to build “our own” Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Even President Trump is reportedly considering this move. Unless he means to do it as a potential new profit center, let me suggest a better path.
Search and social media success are driven by numbers. Although they don’t necessarily lead to a true monopoly, with success they have many monopoly-like features. That is unlikely to change—in fact, it is most likely self-perpetuating and self-concentrating; it is just the nature of the beast.
There is a solution, however. It starts with changing our view of search and social media. Perhaps we need to think of them as a public good. As a public good, they are available to all and are “non-rivalrous,” i.e., one person’s use does not prevent others from also using it.
As we don’t want government attempting to provide these goods to all—that would probably end with a cure worse than the disease—let’s start a new, self-directed nonprofit organization to end the reign of the tech tyrants. With success, we will take the profit out of these areas and thus forever end this brief period that granted unearned power to a handful of individuals in a handful of companies.
Imagining a New Model
We operate the company as a break-even proposition, using just enough advertising sales and other revenue generators to cover our operating costs.
The present tech tyrant business model quickly evolved into turning the user into the product. We abandon this predatory thinking and instead provide our users—our customers—with user-friendly, uncensored, unbiased, non-surveillance products.
Part of the tech tyrants’ strategy of turning the user into the product is constant surveillance and analysis of every action taken by a user—24/7 surveillance and analysis of everything you do online and even expanding into everything you say, everywhere you go, everything you purchase, everything you think. Essentially nonstop surveillance of every aspect of every individual’s life. They are trying to make this “normal” and accepted.
In effect the tech tyrants’ business strategy is to become unknown and unseen puppet masters over the entire population. They are controlling and directing what we can and can’t see, what we can and can’t know—ultimately even what we can and can’t think.
Whether we know it or not, they have turned us into puppets—puppets they want to control on the most fundamental level. Every move they make seems designed to add one more invisible puppet string which these puppet masters control.
We strongly reject this path to even more tyranny and other unknown, unintended consequences.
The technology of social media and search is relatively basic—especially if we shed the 24/7 surveillance. We develop the code through open collaboration. This allows us to keep our staffing levels low while welcoming the genius of millions—rather than being limited to what our staff might be able to create.
Perhaps designed as a main dashboard where search, social media, and new products and services—who knows what the future holds?—can just be added to this central site. One place for everything. No tracking. No surveillance. A place where you and your children are valued users—valued customers—a place where you are not the product.
Of course, we also have to think about steps to ensure this organization doesn’t also evolve into tyranny. We must protect against the desire to use the power of this site for one’s own ends—whether well-intentioned or not.
Safety in Numbers
We never again want to end up like where we are today, where a handful of people—modern-day puppet masters—have this enormous, unchecked power.
Rather, there is safety in numbers. The larger the numbers, the less likely a small group of similar-thinking people will have the sole power to direct the operations of this entity.
We look to the most successful organizational document the world has ever seen, the United States Constitution, for inspiration. We can turn that basic design into a template for a business entity with a perpetual lifespan; one that is designed basically to run itself. Obviously, this requires a number of willing individuals to fill the various roles, but I believe we can find plenty of folks willing to step up.
Perhaps the constitutional experts at Hillsdale or Claremont might care to lend a hand in thinking through this design.
And if President Trump or other wealthy freedom-loving individuals are interested, a tax-deductible angel donation—an investment in freedom—would not be turned away.
It will require some work and some money but there are no technical hurdles to turning search and social media into a public good, thus ending this brief period of tech tyranny. Let them make money in other areas—we should be forever taking the profit and constant surveillance out of these areas.
If you are a supporter of freedom—of any political persuasion—please share this article far and wide. It is a certainty the tech tyrants will do their best to ensure we don’t neuter them by cutting their puppet strings.
Let’s act today to ensure they can do no more harm. With your help, liberty will again reign supreme.