How do we fix the "original sin of the internet?"

Carson Poole
5 replies
I've read many smart people say that the "original sin of the internet" is that advertising is the main driving force in the whole system. News and media outlets are funded mostly by ads, and this means that their main goal is to get clicks, not report the news or produce valuable content. Also, I've seen some very forward looking people say that right now we're at a crossroad where we can choose either to continue allowing ads to be the driving force, or we can change this. The smart people I've seen say this have posited that if we choose the former, it will lead to a very dystopian future. This can already be seen in the political news field, as everything from titles to images are click bait to grab your attention, and you can see the effects of this already on our political climate. This also manifests in the data privacy issues we've been having for the past few years. If everything is about getting advertising dollars, people need as much data on you as physically possible. If we keep allowing the status quo, will the hunt for data and the corresponding issues with privacy and leaks ever end? So now the question is, what do we do about it as a society and even more as the people trying to invent the future?

Replies

Founder & CEO, Hustle Crew
@carsonpoole Wow big question... Is is about fixing the internet or is it about fixing capitalism, though? As long as there are companies optimizing to sell, grow and make profit won't they always be looking for ways to reach their customers?
I like to make life easier
@abadesi As I see it, it's not as much about capitalism as it is about the pipelines we've put in place that capitalism takes ahold of. As you said, companies will always want to connect with their customers, and I don't think that's an issue. However when the vast majority, or sometimes even the totality of funding for giant companies is advertising, that's where the issue arises. We didn't have much of an issue with ads when there were just billboards, newspaper classifieds, etc, but now that ads are so ubiquitous in every facet of the internet, the competitive nature of grabbing attention comes out. It becomes a game of who can attract the most attention the fastest, not who can make a quality product and put it in a few commonly seen places. So in short, I see the issue as the pervasiveness of advertising that comes with and only with the internet. Capitalism just capitalizes (no pun intended) on this feature. I'd like to hear your thoughts though.
@carsonpoole Very interesting question! On the privacy side, Brave is working hard to improve privacy, while over at Trustium we've been thinking about the same issues around quality of content. We're actively working on a way to redirect advertising dollars from questionable content over to quality content. We don't necessarily think getting advertising out will be feasible or even necessary to fixe these issues though. Our strategy is to help advertisers avoid that questionable content while increasing their brand reach and simultaneously lowering costs.
I like to make life easier
@cedarmilazzo1 I'm curious what brings you to think that supplanting advertising as the main source of income for news agencies, content creation, and tech giants isn't necessary? If the main goal of these companies is to drive clicks/views/impressions, how can our privacy ever be safe? That basic goal necessitates huge pools of data, and that data comes from us, the people.
@carsonpoole Don't get me wrong, I think it would be great if we could supplant advertising. I just don't believe that's feasible considering how many trillions of dollars are in play. I do believe, though, that it's possible to advertise effectively (even more effectively than what we currently see) without the advertiser or ad platform knowing anything about the user. At Trustium we are working toward that goal. I'd be happy to share more details in a private forum if you'd like. :)