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Don’t talk to me like I’m another square

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It’s important to remember that, at bottom, Donald Trump’s MAGA revolution is much more about ripping off its own supporters than it is about anything else:

The pro-Trump internet went wild on Wednesday for the Freedom Phone, a $500 smartphone that comes stocked with conservative apps and promises to liberate anyone else who buys it from Silicon Valley censorship. The American flag-branded phone was immediately promoted by a wide range of right-wing figures, including former Trump adviser Roger Stone, Jan. 6 rally organizer Ali Alexander, and pundit Dinesh D’Souza.

“I’m holding a freaking phone that is not controlled by Apple or Google,” conservative personality Candace Owens told her fans in an Instagram video. “We made the switch immediately.”

I’m pretty sure you can guess where this is going.

Despite being lauded by some of the right-wing media’s leading figures, though, the Freedom Phone’s buyers could be getting less than they expect for its $500 price tag. That’s because the Freedom Phone appears to be merely a more expensive rebranding of a budget Chinese phone available elsewhere for a fraction of the Freedom Phone’s price.

Gambling in Casablanca etc.

Who is the brilliant paradigm-shattering techbro disrupter behind this particular disruption?

The Freedom Phone was created by Erik Finman, the self-proclaimed “youngest bitcoin millionaire” and one of Time Magazine’s “Most Influential Teens of 2014.” In a video announcing the phone, Finman said he was inspired to create the phone after the tech giants’ crackdown on both Donald Trump and conservative social media app Parler in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot.

“Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg censored MLK or Abraham Lincoln,” Finman said in the video.

OK I just imagined that. Now I’m imagining kicking Erik Finman in the balls. Repeatedly.

If you want to imagine the same thing really vividly, I recommend watching this:

It’s fair to say the writers aren’t even trying with this one:

In fact, Freedom Phone appears to be a simple rebranding of a budget phone called the “Umidigi A9 Pro,” made by the Chinese tech company Umidigi. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Finman confirmed that the Freedom Phone was manufactured by Umidigi, but couldn’t say immediately which Umidigi phone it was based on.

The Freedom Phone’s $500 price tag would represent a substantial markup on the Umidigi A9 Pro. That phone is available on Chinese retail giant AliExpress for $120 — less than one quarter of the price of a Freedom Phone.

But wait, there’s more:

The Freedom Phone also comes preloaded with an array of free apps for social media networks Parler and MeWe, would-be YouTube competitor Rumble, and media networks One America News and Newsmax. Popular battle royale shooter Fortnite is also preinstalled on the Freedom Phone— a fact that confused more than one conservative influencer who promoted the product.

It’s not clear why a handful of free apps, all of which are currently available in the Google Play app store for other Android devices, would justify the price increase over the Umidigi. Even if the apps were ultimately banned from Google’s store in the future, users could still install them on non-Freedom Phone Android phones through a process called “sideloading.”

The vagaries of Freedom Phone’s actual specifications has produced some awkwardness among the Freedom Phone’s legions of conservative influencers. For example, the Freedom Phone’s “Freedom OS” operating system is based on Google’s Android operating system, according to Finman. But during a livestream video promoting the phone, right-wing activist Anna Khait was confused by her fans’ basic questions about the phone.

“Is it an Android?” Khait said. “I’m not really sure. No, it’s a Freedom Phone.”

Is it also a vegetable steamer and an all in one sous vide machine? Because if not I want my money back now.

The punchline here is about as predictable as a sunrise:

While Freedom Phone’s founder has failed to include basic details about its device, he did line up a massive ad campaign among conservative influencers. Along with Owens, Stone, D’Souza, and Alexander, the Freedom Phone has also been backed by a number of other figures popular on the right, including Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, journalist John Solomon, and Students for Trump cofounder Ryan Fournier.

Many of the Freedom Phone’s prominent endorsers urged their followers to use a promo code to buy the phone, suggesting that the influencers will receive a cut when their fans buy the phone. Each referred sale results in a $50 payment to the influencer who endorsed the phone, according to a website explaining Freedom Phone’s “promoters” program.

Freedom Phone’s promotional campaign generated attention across Twitter, as conservatives promoted it and critics pointed out its potential technical shortfalls. Finman spoke to The Daily Beast from the Freedom Phone’s launch party, right as he realized the phone’s name had become a “trending topic” on Twitter.

“Oh shit, this is trending,” Finman said. “Wow.”

Wow indeed.

I’m toying with the idea of announcing that I will personally destroy Critical Race Theory in America’s law schools if 100,000 people make a $10 donation to my Paypal account.

OK I just prayed on it and God has told me to do this. So if in a few weeks or days or minutes LGM becomes the leading Internet site for devastating CRT critiques, you’ll know there’s a million good reasons why.

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