There’s an interesting dilemma that happens inside the Beltway and across Silicon Valley: do we squash a story and starve it of attention, or do we mercilessly attack it?
When the Freedom Phone announced its launch in the late summer, that was the exact dilemma that journalists, activists, and “debunkers” were faced with. They definitely had the option of ignoring the Freedom Phone in its entirety, and pretending it didn’t even exist. They also had the other option of attacking the Freedom Phone outright, slandering it and calling it a “scam.” They did the math, and decided that attacking the Freedom Phone was the better choice.
It looks like their calculations were wrong - the more they attacked the Freedom Phone, the more units it sold. Now, the Freedom Phone is sitting on upwards of 6 million dollars of sales, a backorder that spans months of shipments, and thousands of customers eager to get their product as fast as possible. In common language, this is what we call a “fail.”
What pundits and commentators failed to realize is that they aren’t just not trusted by millions of Americans - they’re actively distrusted. That’s a big difference: people don’t just tune you out, they automatically feel the urge to do the opposite of what you say. If you say that something is good, their instinct is to believe it is bad; if you say that something is a scam, they feel inspired to investigate it themselves and draw their own conclusions. When these disguised activists decided to attack the Freedom Phone, what they were really communicating to America was a simple message: look closer, there might be something good here.
Looking closer at the Freedom Phone only showed a product that was secure, capable, and entirely affordable. Combined with the ever-increasing censorship from Big Tech, the invasions of privacy from Silicon Valley, and a nonstop deluge of misinformation and Orwellian false truths from the mainstream media, and you have a perfect storm to make the Freedom Phone white hot. Nobody trusts fake debunkers and “fact-checkers” anymore, and the more that you try to “debunk” something the more that the average person knows you’re lying. As a result, Freedom Phones sales skyrocketed, conservatives circled their wagons, and the rest is history.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Months ago, Parler came on the scene as an alternative social media platform dedicated to free speech. The timing was pretty good - Twitter had just finished another round of bans and crackdowns, and President Trump’s base was beginning to worry that he would be banned from social media (later, he was). Enter: Parler, and it’s platform meant to give the average user a voice.
The attacks against Parler were instantaneous, libelous, and merciless. Journalists claimed it was a hive of “nazis,” activists claimed it was full of “terrorists,” fact-checkers claimed it would steal users’ information. They threw everything at it to see what would stick, and for a while it looked like their efforts worked - Parler had to go offline for a short while when their backend processors banned them.
But now Parler is back, better than ever, and with their own hardened platforms ready for future fights. We’re seeing a similar tune played with the Freedom Phone: each time an obstacle is thrown in their way, they find a way to not only navigate the problem, but to blaze a path for anyone else to follow in their footsteps.
So how would you stop something like the Freedom Phone from succeeding in the future? How do you absolutely shut something out of polite society, intimidate its users into silence, and keep it out of the public spotlight? I’m not sure, but my advice is to do the exact opposite of what they did for the Freedom Phone - unless you’re wanting to make it an overnight success again.