Conservative pundit Candace Owens is being lambasted by critics after she pushed back against a report calling the newly announced Big Tech competitor Freedom Phone “a cheap, Chinese knockoff.”
Owens was one of multiple popular conservatives to promote the Freedom Phone this week, pitching it as an alternative to supporting Big Tech companies such as Apple and Google.
Entrepreneur Erik Finman, a self-proclaimed bitcoin millionaire, created the new Freedom Phone, and said he was inspired to do so after social media companies suspended Donald Trump’s various accounts following the January 6 Capitol riot.
Today I’m announcing the Freedom Phone. This is the first major pushback on the Big Tech companies that attacked us – for just thinking different. Complete with it’s own Uncensorable App Store & Privacy Features.We’re finally taking back control. https://t.co/tOSnuxncfdpic.twitter.com/Hykp08ITCQ
— ERIK FINMAN (@erikfinman) July 14, 2021
The Freedom Phone’s biggest selling point is that it comes equipped with its own app store and does not rely on Apple’s or Google’s, meaning apps for Parler or other right-leaning services can’t be removed. Apps for conservative outlets such as Rumble and Newsmax even come preloaded. Finman has also said the phone has enhanced privacy features, and called it “uncensorable.”
The lack of technical details available on the Freedom Phone website, and its hefty $500 price tag, have led some critics to question the value of what is actually being offered, however. Numerous reports have described the phone as being only a slight “rebranding” of the Chinese phone Umidigi A9 Pro, which retails for about $120.
Owens, who has offered discount codes for the phone to her followers, pushed back against one of these reports.
“You KNOW you should pick up a Freedom Phone when state-run Daily Beast instantly runs a hit piece about you!” Owens tweeted on Friday.
LOL you KNOW you should pick up a freedom phone when State-run Daily Beast instantly runs a hit piece about you!Head to https://t.co/5RJKUjkzOH and use code CANDACE for a discount. Bye bye Big Tech!!
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) July 16, 2021
The Freedom Phone has its fair share of conservative supporters already, but it also has plenty of critics, with many using Owens’ defense of the product to get her and the Freedom Phone trending, and some even accusing conservatives of running a “grift” on their supporters.
Others have blasted the fact that a phone aimed at conservatives who value free speech is being manufactured in China – but Finman has countered that, saying it’s actually made in Hong Kong.
He claims the Freedom Phone is the “best” in the world and was open about Umidigi being the inspiration for his product, the design of which was partly based on a previous phone the company had made. He defended the $500 price tag too, citing enhanced memory and privacy features, as well as its apps being customized for the right-leaning consumer.
The marketplace for alternatives to Big Tech companies has grown dramatically since Trump’s dismissal from social media in January. Numerous conservatives have been pitching new or upcoming services intended to rival platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which have been accused of flagging posts and suspending users based on their political views.
Former Trump aide Jason Miller recently announced Gettr, a Twitter-like space that is geared for conservative users and others frustrated with the policing of speech on the actual Twitter. Rumors have swirled that Trump could join Gettr once it grows. For a time, he was tweeting from a now-defunct blog page that was meant to act as a stand-in for his Twitter account.
Trump supporter and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, also suspended from numerous social media platforms, also launched a social media website this year, meant as an alternative to sites like Facebook and YouTube, though its launch has been hindered by glitches.
Trump announced earlier this month that he is joining a lawsuit against Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The class action suit demands an end to the companies’ “shadowbanning” and “blacklisting” of conservative users.
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