I consider writing on this blog to be a hobby, but I do put hours of work every day into it. In a way, it’s become my second job. I research articles whenever I get a chance, write on the train to and from work, and my time at home is dominated by writing. I place ads on the site, and I make about $1-$3 a month off of them. You read that right. Ads just aren’t that profitable on the web anymore, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Newspapers and popular technology blogs have had to tailor their news to what gets the most clicks, rather than what the public needs to hear. They limit their hard hitting journalism as to not offend their largest advertisers, and spend more time writing articles about “10 ways you could be killing your pets,” “5 reasons to eat avocado for every meal,” or other such Buzzfeed-style lists. People don’t think journalists should be doing their work for fun, they don’t think journalists should need to survive off of ramen, whiskey, and cigarettes, but what’s the alternative? You could disable your ad blocker, but then you’re open to intrusive ads, possibly in the way of the content you came to the site to read, and you have to deal with the privacy-violating tracking many of those ads employ. Sure, some large papers offer reasonable subscriptions, but you probably don’t limit your news to one site. Due to bias in reporting the same story, you may have to read the same story from multiple publications to get a clear idea of what’s happening in the world. So, while a simple $5/month subscription to the New York Times may be fair, when you add in subscriptions to the Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, NY Post, Chicago Tribune, and others, you’re suddenly left with spending over $30/month for news, and it’s not even going to all the small sites you read, like NPR, BBC News, Engadget, The Verge, and Leaf&Core, so the issue remains: how do you support journalism without going bankrupt?
That’s where the Brave browser comes in.
Brave is a new browser that features ad-blocking, but does so in an entirely unique way. Rather than just block ads, it can also replace the ads with ads from Brave, which are less intrusive ads. These ads help fund Brave, but a share goes to the user as well. Brave will add money directly to a wallet you’ll have with the browser, allowing you to make money from seeing ads. You can also opt to donate this money to your favorite websites, or even add money monthly to your wallet to go to these websites. Let’s say you’re like me. Broke, but you still want to do something to support good journalism. I would like to spend perhaps $5/month on my favorite websites (if I wasn’t broke, I’d say $20, but who do you think I am, Warren Buffet?). With Brave, you can set such a limit, and as you browse the web, Brave keeps track of the sites you visit. So, for example, let’s say you set down a $10/month limit. You spend 25% of your time reading the Wall Street Journal, 50% reading The New York Times, 20% reading the Washington Post, and 5% reading Leaf&Core. At the end of the month, Brave would take $2.50 and give it to the Wall Street Journal, $5 for the New York Times, $2 for the Washington Post, and 50¢ for Leaf&Core (thanks, kind stranger!). The money being sent is done through Bitcoin, and is completely anonymous, so the publishers can’t even track their readers. You can even mark sites as your favorites, and these will be the only ones to receive donations. Plus, if you’ve earned enough ad revenue from visiting sites, you can also keep a portion, so heavy users will be able to make money while simultaneously helping their favorite sites.
The Brave browser code for supporting websites is open source, so the entire internet becomes the watchdog to ensure Brave isn’t behaving selfishly, and keeping your ad revenue or donations. The goal of Brave is to create a user experience that’s better than viewing the native ads on a website, gives everyone money, and still supporting publishers who work hard. It’s the perfect middle ground between content consumers and content creators. There’s just one small problem: it’s cofounded by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who had to step down as CEO when it was discovered he’s funded hate groups. For every dollar brave makes, a portion is going to Eich, and therefore, a portion could be donated to anti-LGBTQ causes. It’s just like getting a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A.
In 2014, it was revealed that then-CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, donated $1,000 to Proposition 8 in California. Prop 8, as it was called, was also referred to as “Prop hate” by LGBTQ activists. This is because it was a hate-fueled proposition that was on the California ballot. People were literally given the ability to vote to take away rights from LGBTQ in California. Supporters of the proposition to ban same-sex marriage (or, as we know it, marriage), would have a hard time pushing such a hateful law if they were honest about it. So, instead, they spent millions claiming that the proposition would do often unnamed terrible things, or even force children to learn that homosexuality is ok (it is) in schools. They had the complete support of the Mormon Church, but needed donations from wealthy homophobes as well. That’s where Brendan Eich came in. He was among many wealthy businessmen who quickly came in to take equal rights away from gay people. When his donations to support hateful ballot measures became public, Mozilla wanted to remove him as CEO, not because he had those beliefs, but because he made them public, and in doing so, made Mozilla a company that seemed to support hate. Mozilla is an equal opportunity company, and had many LGBTQ employees who no longer wanted to serve a CEO who wanted to take away their civil rights, and users, myself included, didn’t want to use a browser that was peddled by a bigot. As it turns out, supporting hate is bad for business. His fellow bigots were outraged that he was fired for his beliefs, but were strangely complacent in the thousands of LGBTQ people fired for being who they are, something that can’t change like a belief, and something that harms no one, unlike Eich’s actions. Due to the misdirection supporters of Prop 8 accomplished, it got a majority of the vote, and California residents voted in favor of stripping LGBTQ people of their rights, which was fortunately found to be unconstitutional.
I supported Mozilla’s pressuring of Eich to step down, because I, like many others, did not want to support a company that would fund anti-LGBTQ causes. It’s the same reason I haven’t had a mouth watering Chick-fil-A sandwich in many years. Mozilla didn’t want to lose business because its CEO was a bigot, so pressured him to step down, and he fortunately did so willingly.
Brendan Eich has not yet apologized for supporting Prop 8, or stated that his views on LGBTQ rights has changed. Even when his job was on the line, he stuck to his bigoted guns, and didn’t say it was a mistake to fund a hateful and unconstitutional measure. Now he’s back with another browser, and, while it’s something that I, a fan of internet news and a writer, should love, I just can’t throw my support behind it. His beliefs wouldn’t be bad if I knew he could set them aside, but a person who would unapologetically donate money to a hate group would certainly have no problem mistreating his LGBTQ employees, preventing them from getting promotions, or firing them for silly reasons (LGBTQ people are often fired for made-up reasons in places where it’s illegal to fire them for being LGBTQ). He could also be using the money he makes from Brave and donating it to anti-LGBTQ causes still, and that directly hurts my own interests. Brave would be a near-perfect browser, a fantastic compromise between web users and content creators, if only Eich had apologized for his donation and claimed he has since seen the light. Instead, he simply started another company, and has, apparently, held on to his ignorant views. As far as we know, an LGBTQ person’s life is made more difficult for every dollar Eich, and therefore Brave, receives.
Brave looks like it could be the perfect solution, but it’s unfortunately being helmed by a man who supports hate groups. While Brave is exactly what I’ve been waiting for, a proper solution to web-based journalism, I don’t like it’s bigoted baggage. Therefore, I will not be downloading or using this browser. If you choose too, that’s fine by me, and I’d be more than happy if you sent me some Bitcoin, but I can’t personally support someone who is actively trying to take away my rights. If Eich ever decides to stop supporting the crazy people working to make life difficult for certain human beings in this country, I’ll give his browser a try. Until then, Brave is nothing more than a great idea from someone who has loathsome ideals.