Response to Joan Westenberg

Is the 'Creator Economy' the Solution for Tech Monopolies?

We need to grapple with the reality that most creators will never make a living trying to compete with billion-dollar tech platforms

David Rhoades
2 min readMar 27, 2024


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Joan's article poses 'self-owned' platforms and apps as an alternative to the billion-dollar tech monopolies which own most web traffic globally because, as they put it, self-built platforms offer better access to audiences and other resources.

While I'm not sure even this is true, given Google’s monopoly on search and the fact that virtually all of the Internet is hosted on privately owned servers, I think what's going unsaid here is that by forgoing the major platforms, you're directly competing with them.

Daily time spent on the top 5 media and content platforms each total 30-50 minutes on average. That's more than two hours combined if you visit the top 5 media platforms on a daily basis, which is common for users with stable and affordable Internet. It isn't feasible to have every small-time producer try and elbow these billion-dollar platforms for a share of the average person's ever-shrinking amount of free time.

The top 5 websites in the world are owned by only 3 companies—Alphabet, Meta, and Twitter (now X). Like Westenberg points out, major platforms have enormous unilateral influence over people's entertainment and livelihood, but the solution isn't for everyone to build their own app or platform, any more than the solution to Walmart is opening a small shop next door. It's by swallowing those small shops that Walmart became the size that it is.

What’s the actual alternative?

It’s a genuine injustice that tech monopolies have enormous control over online commerce and publishing, but it’s incorrect to put forward ‘self-built’ platforms as a viable alternative for people to make a living online. What Westenberg highlights in her article is the same problem we’ve had with monopolies since the 19th century.

The objective solution is to bring the tech monopolies into public ownership under the democratic control of its employees, who know how to run these platforms best. It’s only under those conditions that individual filmmakers, writers, and commodity producers can use these platforms as public utilities for the general good.



David Rhoades

Working class writer, editor, and photographer. Journalist for Socialist Alternative. Writes essays, horror, and science fiction.