Today, I came to the realization that more than 99.9% of the US population will never read my blog posts. I can write just about anything in this article that I desire. So, I still have freedom of speech, however, there is not an equal playing field for the distribution of my content. If you see this article perhaps you know me personally, or my limited marketing budget reaches you. The algorithms of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter truly determine what you see. Furthermore, the more money that content producers pay these new media corporations the more viewership content producers receive. It is a twisted complex maze of servers, algorithms, user attention, consumerism, and capitalism. In essence, corporations are making profit by selling your time at your expense.
Robber Barons: Private Sector Content Distribution
So you want to read the “news”? You may visit Apple News, Google news, Fox News, ABC News, or some other news platform. What you see is a crafted aggregation of articles. Some of these articles are published in-house, some are pushed by PR firms, and others may even be crafted by machines splicing snippets of information together in a somewhat coherent manner. Some content producers pay to have their content pushed to your attention while other content produces have enough clout that the internet algorithms push forward their content without restriction. I ponder whether or not new media companies are the new Robber Barons?
1: an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales)
2: a business owner or executive who acquires wealth through ethically questionable tactics
As individuals our time is being exploited by these large corporations as we consume information through their proprietary feeds. If we want information without advertisements we need to pay (if that’s an option). If we don’t pay to remove advertisements than we sacrifice our time and cognitive energy. Imagine how much time would be saved if the american public did not have to succumb to unwanted advertisements. All of the television commercials, banner ads, search ads, facebook ads, instagram ads…gone. That newly found time could be used productively to add value to our economy.
Content Producer Implications
Capitalistic Censorship. If a content producer does not have money to pay distributors, than that content will be pushed to the bottom of the infinite pile of internet pages. Equality is not built into search engine algorithms or news feeds. If you are a small company and lack sufficient monetary backing, good luck being seen.
A solution could be for corporations to pay people for their time to view business advertisements. This would involve a platform that would allow people to choose what advertisements they would like to see across all platforms. Individuals should have the right to choose the advertising that is fed to them, and they should be compensated for their time. Furthermore, this type of platform will give small businesses the same chance to be seen as large corporations perhaps with a cap on spend per advertisement, or proportional advertising costs based on revenue earned by each business.