Everything Is Becoming Paywalled Content Even You

On the internet of the future, nothing appears on your screen without approval. Scavenging Wikipedia, you’ll learn about pizza farms and the insane circumstances surrounding King Edmund II’s death (he died while taking a shit). At one point, you’ll likely tweet about that strange period in 2019 when Pete Buttigieg wore Obama drag during his primary run for president.

One night, before turning in for bed, you’ll scroll through Instagram, admiring one acquaintance in particular, deciding to follow their bio link to a private subscription-only page where they offer “premium” content (mostly nudes). In this version of utopia—your very own!—there is only bliss and the occasional curated chaos.

There are no diabolical algorithms suggesting what to stream, who to follow, or where to vacation. There is no nefarious ad tracking going on. Privacy intrusions are essentially nonexistent. There are no public status markers, no heart-emoji icons nudging you into liking something you actually don’t (but liked anyway because your friend posted it and that’s how friendship works on the internet). Everything you read and everyone you follow is, for once, up to you. In this digital Eden, you command full control.

There’s just one catch: It requires a monthly subscription of $5. In fact, most aspects of your harmoniously-constructed Shangri-La will necessitate a subscription. Even you—yes, you—will have a set monthly fee for family members, friends, colleagues, and Twitter randos to subscribe to all your top-tier content. This is the age of the subscription ouroboros, a constantly renewing cycle of collective (and sometimes shameless) self-sponsorship where everyone can stay in their own loop forever.

If all of that sounds like an impossibility, like it could only occur in some bizarro universe where celebrity presidents don’t exist and Earth is actually the temperature it should be, it’s not. It’s almost here. The internet turned everything into a commodity—now built on what economist Jeremy Rifkin calls “access relationships,” where “virtually all of our time is commodified” and “communications, communion, and commerce [are] indistinguishable.”

Think of it like an open subscription loop, or peer-to-peer lifestyle funding. The next frontier is a world where everyone is an influencer, and we are all just paying for, and being paid for, a litany of perfectly curated feeds.

In this future, OnlyFans creators like Clément Castelli are the cornerstones. He is among a generation of influencers who are the new faces of bare-all subscription fandom. With membership-oriented platforms, crowdfunding, and fan-based subscription sites—from Patreon to service-driven apps like TaskRabbit—people like Castelli can deliver exactly what users want, and those users, those fans, get exactly what they came for.

No one has to make content just to get views and appeal to the masses, and the masses don’t have to sort through everything they don’t want to find what they do—a shift that will change not just the future of work but internet life as we will come to know it.

Piece by piece, this transformation is already taking hold. In Rifkin’s 2001 book Age of Access, he anticipated a society not unlike the one we’ll soon have, where “every activity outside the confines of family relations is a paid-for experience, a world in which traditional reciprocal obligations and expectations—mediated by feelings of faith, empathy, and solidarity—are replaced by contractual relations in the form of paid memberships, subscriptions, admission charges, retainers, and fees.”

Although it is only now coalescing, the shift began about a decade ago, just as social media networks were equipping users with the tools to become avatars of endless self-creation, styling their identities however they saw fit. The most in-demand platforms—especially the big three: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook—prioritized individualism and self-branding.

Around this time, major crowdfunders were also in vogue, promising that if projects were fully funded, contributors would receive special additional benefits for their donations. In 2013, Patreon expanded on the model Kickstarter and GoFundMe gave rise to, allowing “patrons” to opt-in to an artist’s ongoing creative pursuits, donating monthly and not just on a one-time basis.

“Patreon encourages creators to treat these patrons less like charitable benefactors and more like members who have purchased admission to a club,” Jonah Weiner reported last October for WIRED, “entitling them to exclusive perks, whether it’s gated chat sessions, bonus content, or early peeks at a work in progress.”

In the years since, platforms have found new ways to harness fandoms for profit. OnlyFans, which adopted a similar model to Patreon, played on the allure of the influence economy, enticing uber-popular Instagrammers like Castelli, trainer Badass Cass, and former MTV star Malcolm Drummer to upload risker content behind a monthly paywall.

In the six months since I reported on the site last year, it has doubled in size, with more than 20 million registered users and 200,000 “creators.” There’s an obvious demand for this stripe of content. OnlyFans began as an influencer’s paradise—they could finally show themselves as they never had before, and make money doing it—but it has since expanded its offering. Creators are no longer just influencers, reality TV stars, adult entertainers or #fitspo evangelists; they’re your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your local bartender and that one guy at Trader Joe’s who always bags your groceries just right. It is a preview of what’s to come.

Today, there seems to be a larger integration happening across-the-board, for everyone. All of us, in one form or another, will have no choice but to practice self-sponsorship. Imagining a future where Twitter and Instagram have private monthly subscription options for users with locked accounts doesn’t seem that far off. Maybe certain platforms offer package deals. For $10 a month on YouTube, you choose which five creators you want to subscribe to, of which they get a cut.

This new reality is less about everyone transforming into their own brand or even becoming an independent contractor at the whims of a mercurial gig economy—it will be the very basis for life, or at least livelihood. It’s the creation of a future in which we can never afford to stop working, or better yet, where work doesn’t actually feel like work.

Most people will still have the kind of jobs they have now, but living them will provide the additional capital they need to get by, as each person’s life just becomes another upload into someone else’s feed. This shift will completely change how we define labor, and what it means to generations who come after us, remapping their relationship to the internet and its many resources.

Not long ago, I wrote about why the internet might work better if certain parts of it were segregated along racial lines, calling to mind the digital communities of the past that thrived in isolation—MelaNet, CyberPowWow, NetNoir Online. I now wonder if this might be the actual shape that segregation takes, a kind of intentional partitioning as a matter of financial sustenance.

What I’m arguing for is not a private internet—in this dreamland, many services still offer “free” options—but one designed in such a way that people can support each other more meaningfully. As Rifkin predicted, many of our daily interactions are now “bound up in strictly commercial relationships.” But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We still have a choice to opt-in. Think of it as an internet built around more purposeful connections—only to the things, people, and experiences we want.

Source: Everything Is Becoming Paywalled Content—Even You | WIRED

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More Great WIRED Stories

References

Olmstead, Kenny. “Online: Key Questions Facing Digital News”. The State of News Media 2011. Pew Research Center. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.

Huawei Sells Honor Unit ‘To Ensure Its Own Survival,’ But Loses Smartphone Synergy

Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant once ranked as the world’s largest smartphone maker and increasingly squeezed by Washington, announced Tuesday that it would sell its budget handset brand Honor to a government-backed consortium in a bid for the unit’s survival.

Huawei has been struggling to overcome restrictions on crucial chip technologies by the U.S., which calls the company a national security threat. By breaking off, Honor can get smartphone supplies without Washington’s blockade, but will lose access to Huawei’s resources and may even face new U.S. restrictions in the longer term, analysts warn.

“This move has been made by Honor’s industry chain to ensure its own survival,” Huawei said in a statement. “Huawei’s consumer business has been under tremendous pressure as of late. This has been due to a persistent unavailability of technical elements needed for our mobile phone business.”

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Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology is set to buy all Honor assets to “help Honor’s channel sellers and suppliers make it through this difficult time,” according to the statement. The buyer comprises more than 30 “agents and dealers” of the Honor brand.

Government-run Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group founded the consortium. It counts local government-linked energy, healthcare and investment firms as members. Chinese sports, retail and entertainment conglomerate Suning.com Group, one of China’s largest private companies, is also on the list. MORE FOR YOUVietnamese Mega-Conglomerate Vingroup Launches South China Sea Tourism With New SubmarineTop iPhone Assembler Foxconn Expects To Move Further Away From ChinaVietnam’s Richest Man Sees Interim Earnings Drop 60% As His Conglomerate Retreats From Retail

Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development said in its own statement the investment is “market-driven” one aimed at saving Honor’s “industry chain,” including suppliers, sellers and consumers.

The sale will let Honor “get the ball rolling” on getting supplies, says Kiranjeet Kaur, a Singapore-based senior research manager at IDC’s Asia Pacific client devices group. But it will miss the “synergy” it had established behind the scenes with Huawei, she notes. The two had shared R&D and original design manufacturing. “I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be for Honor to detach from that,” Kaur says. “I’m not sure how Honor is going to differentiate in the market from Huawei.”

The consortium’s state influence could land Honor in trouble if it wants approval from the U.S., Kaur adds.

“The fact that there is no strategic investor behind the deal, but rather a consortium of players, many of which are related to the government, sheds light on some of the deal rationale,” says Alexander Sirakov, an independent Chinese financial technology analyst.

Huawei has hoped that a sale will give it an infusion of cash while protecting Honor itself from more U.S. sanctions, experts said last week when news first broke about a possible sale. Huawei’s billionaire founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, had said last year that U.S. sanctions would cause company revenue to drop by billions of dollars.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to an entity list of companies that are barred from doing business with organization in the U.S. An order that took effect two months ago placed 38 Huawei affiliates to the list and restricts transactions where U.S. software or technology would help develop the Chinese company’s hardware.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to cancel action against Huawei at the start of his term next year as he focuses on domestic issues, analysts said last week, but he might not add sanctions.

Huawei’s statement does not disclose a selling price or mention the U.S. sanctions.

Honor was launched in 2013 as a budget brand to compete with Chinese rivals and sold throughout developing markets in Asia at an average price of $156. Honor has kept costs low and saved money by selling most of its phones online. Huawei would ship more than 70 million Honor phones annually. “We hope this new Honor company will embark on a new road of honor with its shareholders, partners, and employees,” the Huawei statement says.

Huawei was ranked No. 2 in the world and No. 1 in China in the third quarter by IDC. It had reached the top spot in the previous quarter for its first time.Follow me on Twitter

Ralph Jennings

Ralph Jennings

As a news reporter I have covered some of everything since 1988, from my alma mater U.C. Berkeley to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where I followed Communist officials for the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Stationed in Taipei since 2006, I track Taiwanese companies and local economic trends that resonate offshore. At Reuters through 2010, I looked intensely at the island’s awkward relations with China. More recently, I’ve studied high-tech trends in greater China and expanded my overall news coverage to surrounding Asia.

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Chinese tech giant #Huawei has announced it’s selling its budget, youth-oriented smartphone brand Honor to another Chinese company. The move is seen as helping it ride out challenges posed by U.S. sanctions. #5G#China Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn… Download our APP on Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/de…

FDA Approves Remdesivir For Covid-19 Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved remdesivir as a treatment for hospitalized coronavirus patients, Gilead Sciences said, making it the first FDA-approved drug for Covid-19.

Key Facts

The drug was previously granted an emergency use authorization in May, which allowed healthcare providers to administer the treatment even though it wasn’t formally approved by the FDA.

Remdesivir, which is sold under the brand name Veklury, “should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care,” Gilead said.

The drug is approved for adults and children 12 and older weighing at least 88 lbs. for coronavirus treatment requiring hospitalization.

Clinical trial data has been mixed: A randomized trial from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found remdesivir improved recovery time, but a study from the World Health Organization, which has not yet been peer reviewed, found last week the drug did not increase the chances of survival or result in faster recovery.

Gilead shares jumped 3.8% in after hours trading following the announcement. 

Crucial Quote

“It is incredible to be in the position today, less than one year since the earliest case reports of the disease now known as COVID-19, of having an FDA-approved treatment in the U.S. that is available for all appropriate patients in need,” said Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day in a statement.

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Key Background

President Donald Trump took remdesivir when being treated for the coronavirus earlier this month. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tipRachel SandlerI’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

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Remdesivir is a prodrug of an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) analog, with potential antiviral activity against a variety of RNA viruses. Upon administration, remdesivir, being a prodrug, is metabolized into its active form GS-441524. As an ATP analog, GS-441524 competes with ATP for incorporation into RNA and inhibits the action of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. This results in the termination of RNA transcription and decreases viral RNA production.

Remdesivir has an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for use in adults and children with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in hospital with an SpO2 ≤94%.[L13239] This is not the same as an FDA approval.[L12609] The FDA Emergency Use Authorization suggests a loading dose of 200mg once daily in patients ≥ 40 kg or 5 mg/kg once daily in patients 3.5 kg to less than 40 kg, followed by a maintenance dose of 100mg once daily in patients ≥ 40 kg or 2.5 mg/kg once daily in patients 3.5 kg to less than 40 kg.[L13239] Patients not needing invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) should be treated for 5 days (including the loading dose on day 1), up to 10 days if they do not show improvement.[L13239] Patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation or ECMO should be treated for 10 days.[L13239]

Clinical trials used a regimen of 200mg once daily on the first day, followed by 100mg once daily for another 9 days.[A191931,L12174,L12177] Early data suggests that some patients may benefit from only 5 days of treatment.[A198810] Remdesivir was originally investigated as a treatment for Ebola virus, but has potential to treat a variety of RNA viruses.[A191379] Its activity against the coronavirus (CoV) family of viruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, was described in 2017,[A191382] and it is also being investigated as a potential treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infections.[A191427,A193254]

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CNBC Television 1M subscribers The FDA has approved Gilead’s Remdesivir as a Covid-19 treatment. Previously, the drug was approved only for emergency authorization. Gilead stock was up 4 percent after the news. Meg Tirrell joins ‘Closing Bell’ to discuss. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. The News with Shepard Smith is CNBC’s daily news podcast providing deep, non-partisan coverage and perspective on the day’s most important stories. Available to listen by 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT daily beginning September 30: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/29/the-n… Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBChttps://www.cnbc.com/select/best-cred…#CNBC

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