MINOT, N.D. — Have you heard about the Freedom Phone?
It's a product being hawked by a 21-year-old kid named Erik Finman who lays dubious claim to the title of "youngest bitcoin millionaire."
The phone's premise is that it represents a pushback against Big Tech's efforts to serve as the speech police. The Freedom Phone won't censor apps and will protect your privacy, we're told.
Today I'm announcing the Freedom Phone.— ERIK FINMAN (@erikfinman) July 14, 2021
This is the first major pushback on the Big Tech companies that attacked us - for just thinking different.
Complete with it's own Uncensorable App Store & Privacy Features.
We're finally taking back control. https://t.co/tOSnuxncfd pic.twitter.com/Hykp08ITCQ
There are now conservative pundits and influencers pushing this thing (some from their iPhones, ironically enough) with discount codes and other promotions.
There are a lot of good reasons to demur from making a purchase.
Based on this Ars Technica report, it appears the nearly $500 Freedom Phone is a rebrand of a $120 model made in China. That can't be confirmed, though. There are no technical specifications available detailing the phone's processor or memory. You don't really know what you're buying.
As for being uncensorable, the phone seemingly runs an open-source version of Android with access to Google's Play Store as passed through a rebranded, open-source client.
Mr. Finman says his company won't censor the apps on the Freedom Phone.
Maybe that's because they can't since they don't control the Play Store?
The whole idea of a piece of hardware being a check app or content censorship is more than a little ridiculous. Your phone doesn't censor anything. The services your phone uses to let you access information and communicate — apps like Facebook and Twitter — are what do that.
But let's talk about what this phone represents, which is the latest crude initiative to monetize the paranoia and marginalization conservatives feel.
Turn on conservative talk radio any time of the day and you'll likely be hit with a pitch for Mike Lindell's pillows.
Now we have the Freedom Phone.
* Get budget smartphone made in China that retails for $179.99 ✅— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) July 15, 2021
* Install free open source Google-managed OS, fail to do the free compatibility process so can't use the Android name ✅
* Call it "Freedom Phone" and sell it to gullible Trump supporters for $499.99 ✅ pic.twitter.com/1Wt9AJYaeG
The rise of conservative media, starting with magazines such as National Review and Human Events, continuing through the rise of talk radio and on into the digital age, was a logical reaction to the rising hostility toward right-of-center views in (I'm going to use this term even though I hate it) the "mainstream media."
It was a noble endeavor. I like to consider myself a small part of it. I launched my career with SayAnythingBlog.com, which I created in 2003, in the pioneering days of blogging, and I believe it's had a significant impact on North Dakota politics.
But what started as a national push to bring thought diversity and nuance to the marketplace of ideas — something that's still as necessary and relevant today as it was decades ago — has morphed into something more exploitive.
What many modern conservative media types claim to want is fair representation in the culture. Fair treatment in the news media. Vigorous but peaceful discourse.
What they promote — from Fox News down to your local conservative talk radio host — is a conservative ghetto. They promote a divide between conservatives and everyone else. They don't want to govern. I'm not sure many of the loudest and most popular conservative voices really want to advance conservative ideas.
They want to keep conservatives isolated, angry, and paranoid, and then they want to monetize that anger and paranoia.
And yes, there are plenty on the left who want to do the same, but the dynamic is different on the right, give how conservatives have conceded "mainstream" status to the left.
Conservatives have increasingly written off mainstream culture, and are instead seeking to create their own culture. Their own social media. Their own music and entertainment.
Even their own phones.
And there are many hucksters and charlatans eager to make a profit from this cultural balkanization.
Does that help the conservative movement?
But it potentially makes some people a lot of money.
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.