I love cheeseburgers. That’s how I knew we needed to stop advertising on Big Tech platforms.
Non-sequitur? May seem that way, but hear me out.
I am sure you have done a web search on your favorite food when you’re in an unfamiliar place. You then get a list of results, as if by magic, that provides some suggestions. You meander through and choose a place. Dinner is served! But next time you take a bite, take a think about what had to happen for you to end up in that place at that time - it isn’t magic at all:
You had to choose a device to search on
You had to choose an internet provider / network to search on
You had to choose a search portal
You had to choose a set of search terms
You had to choose a link to click
You had to choose the restaurant
In making these choices, guess what information you didn’t have? Well, the very thing that you would use to evaluate success in your endeavor - how you enjoyed the cheeseburger. No, in fact, at several points along the way, you had to trust another person or platform or both.
If you ordered in, the leaps of faith expand:
Which payment method?
Pay online or over the phone?
Will it be delivered?
So how did you pick who to trust? How will you pick who to trust next time you want a cheeseburger delivered? Will the guy or gal show up?
I’m not writing this to work you up about identity theft next time you want a patty melt. Rather, it shows the depth of dependence we have on platforms in our lives. Devices, websites, banks, delivery networks - they add massive convenience, but are also hubs where power is centralized and thus can be used to manipulate their user base in invisible ways. A single click can amplify or deplatform a person, a company, or even another platform (remember Parler? Me neither). Your friends can be de-banked if you post something critical online.
We believe there is only one answer to this: exposure to primary sources. The absolute antithesis to this is third-party censorship. Skepticism and critical thought disappear when alternatives are eliminated. When it comes to opinion, there is no one authority, one truth - and when opinion is portrayed as truth, every one of humanity’s worst attributes manifests. Without critical thought, risk, and a marketplace of ideas, there is no progress. We end up choosing the one thing that is available, not because it is the best, but because we don’t even know we have a choice.
No matter your opinion, you deserve to be heard, and you deserve to be challenged on it. And so does everyone else. It is, naturally, less comfortable to live this way, but doing otherwise undermines human progress.
There are useful counterarguments to discuss, concerns that individuals with some ideas, or restaurants selling some food products, if amplified, may prove harmful in ways that can spin into destructive events. Some regulation, backed by a society’s agreed upon and vetted laws, would almost certainly be a tethering force to our fellow man. But the risk of no choice is far greater than the risk of making the wrong one. When platforms censor based on their selective judgment, leanings, or beliefs, we all lose - including the platform. And we believe they should have to feel this consequence, because selective censorship makes them objectively worse than their competition. So, we stopped giving them our money and haven’t looked back.
My sister swears by McDonald’s cheeseburgers. If that were my only choice, I would say I didn’t like cheeseburgers. Next time you find yourself with the urge to censor something, think about how sad that would be.
J.D. Willcox is Co-Founder and CFO of Qore Performance, Inc.
See below for links to other IceAge Insights Business articles on Big Tech:
More Expensive Than AMEX: Why We Stopped Accepting Paypal on our E-Commerce Store
Online Shopping Secrets: the hidden fees credit card companies and payment processors don't want you to know about