Crab Buckets

Sometimes trying to escape the drear that is the morning news can lead one into equally murky thoughts. And pondering of whether one is actually in one of the dystopias one didn’t want to be.

One of my common morning behaviours is doing the daily challenges in a solitaire app. I find a few games of solitaire a pleasingly light way to shift my mind into thinking mode for the day, but don’t love solitaire enough to want super shiny extra features in my app; so, I’m still using the app that came pre-installed on my computer which, in common with many free-to-play games, has interstitial adverts. These used to something that didn’t really impact: I wouldn’t choose to have them there if someone offered to just take them away but I don’t feel one or two 30-second bursts of blah about something not relevant to me is a significant price to pay for a few solitaire challenges.

Recently the adverts have started glitching: they will play the sound but not the images; instead of loading between games they will load at the same time, so the soundtrack plays over and over for the length of the game; sometimes they even freeze up and I have to restart the app. In addition to a moment of irritation that they are pulling greater attention without greater interest, my gut response every time has been to wonder how an online casino, retailer, or other such company can believe someone will trust their site with bank details if they can’t even make a 30-second video run without issues.

However, I had a newer, darker thought: what if that is the point? Obviously, if an advertiser tried to run a deliberately wonky advert for a competitor to make them look dodgy, they’d get caught out sharpish; but we are all so used to computers being a little wonky that some juddering or other wobbles wouldn’t stand out, so a less than ethical app could take money to make the adverts of someone’s rival a little wonky sometimes. Again, it would be noticeable if it was one advertiser, but capitalism has a weakness for racing to the bottom, so it probably wouldn’t be just one company doing it to another; and if you are doing it, you aren’t likely to take the risk of being discovered by complaining someone else is doing it to you.

Of course, there almost certainly isn’t a conspiracy by companies to throttle the adverts of rivals. After all, most adverts are pitched by middle-person agencies.


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