The Alt-Right’s Grey Web: More Dangerous Than the Dark Web

Today I said something stupid:

Censoring Alex Jones feels more like an attempt to avoid liability for his content than a political statement. Perhaps social media companies have finally become large enough that we need to regulate them in the interest of the public? I’d like to see a regulatory framework which limits the liability of content carriers, and gives rights to content creators. We should do the same thing with DMCA claims too. It’s too easy to get YouTube channels taken down with spurious copyright claims.

Tar Palantir: I’ve been including more Tolkien references since I discovered Peter Thiel reads this blog.

Nobody called me out on it but I knew my own mistake. What the hell am I doing wasting my friend’s time with boring summaries of what I “want”. It’s pure madness to think that our legislature has the time, intelligence, or inclination to regulate social media for the greater good of all Americans. I was just shooting my mouth off to look cool. What I want is irrelevant, I should make myself useful and tell you what’s coming next. This way at least you’ll have an incentive to remember what I said, so you can take me to task for it when it doesn’t happen.

Prediction: In the near future, content creators will migrate to cellphone apps that they either control individually, or in concert with other like minded creators. The resulting business model will provide all the benefits of a vertical media monopoly, with none of the scaling costs. Content will become increasingly extreme, as creators focus on retaining niche audiences, but it won’t matter because we’ll only see what people who think like us are saying and watching. I call this siloed version of the internet “The Grey Web”.

Except it wasn’t Jesus, it was a bunch of resentful nobodies who thought being offended made them right by default.

The grey web is everything online you could see, but won’t because your preferences prevent you. Currently, most of the internet is on your personal grey web, within your reach but hidden behind algorithms or on websites you’ll never go to. Now that media platforms are becoming more aggressive about picking winners and losers, people looking to profit from content creation are going to make their own platforms. Smart phone apps will be a large part of that effort.

If they stop selling the app Jones will just sell “survival satellite phones”.

App-distributed Grey Web content will reach fewer people, but distributing it will still be safer and more profitable. With an app, you can send push notifications, take user’s money directly, hide controversial content behind pay walls, and use demographic information and geo-fencing to distribute your content as you see fit. Moreover, you can add live streaming and interactive features specifically tailored to enthrall your audience. There’s no reason you can’t show advertising on-top of that too. When 5G becomes standard, every feature I just mentioned will become exponentially more powerful, and data costs will no longer be an issue.

Clearly, a well intentioned attempt to help Info Wars fans find more of their beloved programming.

Twitter and Facebook are doomed to fail because they’ve wasted their time bringing people together but don’t have the courage to defend the value of open human interaction. YouTube has risen to it’s current heights with the help of an army of professional content creators, but it’s dug it’s own grave by siding with corporations and pressure groups against the people who give the service its only value. There’s not a single Facebook user or YouTuber who would stay on these sites if they didn’t have a complete monopoly. Recent advances in technology have made these monopolies largely imaginary.

Wouldn’t you most people prefer a version of Twitter where they could only reach the people who agreed with them. Imagine a version of YouTube, where you can put up any copyrighted or incendiary content you want because the community guidelines are determined by a community of people that think and believe as you do. The sense of freedom, and the constant satiation of your desire for entertainment is going to be irresistible. The new model won’t put a massive company in between the user’s and the creators, you’ll pay the content generators directly, and they’ll respond to the incentives accordingly.

Even the people who need to hear them most don’t want to hear dissenting opinions. If powerful people don’t have to tolerate criticism why should you?

Alex Jones, might not be the “canary in the coal mine” that warns us about an impending censorship problem, but I strongly predict that the success of his app will start an avalanche of major content producers creating their own versions. This ban will allow Alex an excuse to migrate his audience onto a platform where he can:

  1. Say literally anything with minimum oversight from the mainstream media.
  2. Reach his audience at work and on the toilet
  3. Constantly, ask for donations to fight censorship and “keep the app alive”
  4. Sell products and charge peoples credit cards while they are actually watching his show.
  5. Game his audience’s dopamine system with constant push notifications to make sure they spend as much time and money on the app as possible.

This is an ideal situation for Alex, and he’s uniquely positioned to use this YouTube ban to increase the popularity of his app. The vast sums of money he’s about to make will inspire others to follow suit.

Now that these people have something real to worry about, they’ll start whipping out their wallets and throwing it at him.

Back to the boring topic of what I want. I want an open web where I know what everyone around me is thinking, and can join in on any debate I take an interest in. It chills my blood to think that in the near future someone like Alex Jones could reach wide popularity without my having the slightest clue who he is or what he has to say. Unfortunately, the long term effect of boycotts and firing campaigns will be to drive every strong opinion underground. The people of the future will hide their true opinions on politics, religion, and “what’s the best show on television”, as carefully as they hide their sexual fetishes. I’d prefer us to find a way to tolerate each other, but that’s so far beyond what I could reasonably expect from my society, I might as well be talking about affordable healthcare. I wonder what apps I’ll be watching a year from now.

I’d actually love a BJJscout app, bring on the future!



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