OSD 205: Friends in high places
Garand Thumb tweeted this from SHOT Show this week:
That kicked off some discussion among the OSD crew. Our own Chuck Rossi saw this first hand while working as an engineering director at Meta (f.k.a. Facebook) for 11 years, and working directly on gun content policies for the last two years of that stretch.
The large social media companies operate at planetary scale. Meta runs four separate services that each have >1 billion users. A decision that affects 1% of, say, Instagram’s users will affect 25 million people. So it’s easy for a giant like that to move its foot the wrong way and crush an entire industry without even noticing.
Fun fact from OSD 80 about the scale issue (the stats here are from August 2020 but the point still holds):
Guns, for all their cultural impact, are still a cottage industry. The entire firearm and ammo industry has about $32 billion in annual revenue. That’s as much revenue as Google makes in ten weeks. Smith & Wesson, one of the best-known brands in the world (in any industry), has a market cap of $1 billion — 0.12% of Facebook’s.
The only way to avoid this bull-in-a-china-shop effect is for the people making the decisions to be experts on the nuances of what they’re doing. The reason that guns on social media are mired in kafkaesque policy outcomes is that the decision-makers are not gun experts, to say the least. When the gun decisions are happening, often nobody in the room has ever touched a gun.
This is partially just a form of Robert Heinlein’s version of Hanlon’s razor: never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Yes, some decision-makers at these companies are actively opposed to the sort of gun content that those of you reading this newsletter would like to see more of (e.g. basic gunsmithing videos, let alone tutorials on how to 3D print a gun). But those folks a relatively small group. The majority don’t know what they don’t know, and as a gun rights community we’re not arming them with any reasons to voice a different perspective.
Squint at it and this is good news: we have an education problem, not a persuasion problem. Education is much easier.
The other good news is that education is high-leverage in this domain. A dozen neutral folks at each company are enough to make a difference. We just need to give them the knowledge and experience that they’re missing.
OSD has run a few range days for tech folks. In 2023, we are ramping that up.
We’ll be running range days specifically for people at companies with gun content policies. Those courses will have top-shelf instructors, and no politics or persuasion — just 1-2 days of shooting instruction.
If you work at such a company and would like to attend with some of your colleagues, reply to this email and let us know.
This week’s links
Livestream of thoughts on the show.
Analysis from The Baltimore Banner.
Top-quality hats, t-shirts, and patches.
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