Is your platform at risk of being destroyed by big tech companies? In this episode, find out what is happening and what to do about it.
What is happening
Big tech companies are censoring, shadow banning, and suspending accounts of Christian authors.
There is a chance you may already be algorithmically shadowbanned and not know it.
What is shadow banning?
This is when a social media company allows your profile to stay active but hides it from search results and in certain areas of the platform (like in recommendations). If you have seen a dramatic drop in social engagement, there is a chance you have been shadowbanned.
- Recently, a whistleblower revealed how Pinterest has been censoring pro-lifers, Christians and conservatives.
- Certain terms, including some Bible verses, are on Pinterest’s “sensitive terms list.”
- Christian authors used to rave about how Pinterest brought a flood of traffic to their sites. I have not heard this from a Christian author in over a year. I suspect Pinterest is the most anti-Christian platform.
- Twitter suspended the account of Christian author Abby Johnson, the same weekend the movie about her book Unplanned came out.
- I know Abby personally and even helped build a website for her.
YouTube (owned by Google) Censorship
- YouTube recently blocked an ad with ‘Christian’ keyword, labels it ‘unacceptable content’
- I have personal experience with this YouTube censorship. Back when I was an agent, one of my clients was demonetized for advocating for complementarianism on her YouTube account.
- Facebook has a long history of censoring Christians. The EdgeRank algorithm is a very powerful censorship engine that can make it almost impossible to find out if you are being censored or not.
- The first instance I am personally familiar with was in 2012 when they censored any mention of Chick-fil-a Appreciate Day. They were called out on it on the nightly news. They later claimed it was a glitch that specifically filtered out any mention of Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day and nothing else.
- Christian authors like pastor Paul Washer have had their sermons taken down from Facebook for being labeled as “hate speech”
Instagram (owned by Facebook) Censorship
- Instagram, Facebook Block Pro-Life Posts by Christian Author Alveda King. Alveda is a niece of leader Martin Luther King Jr. and she has reported that some of her pro-life posts were censored by Instagram.
Who has been targeted so far:
Not all Christian authors have been targeted.
Who has been targeted so far (that I know about):
- Advocates of the Christian Sexual Ethic
- Christian Fundamentalists
- Some Conservative Evangelicals
- Bottom Line: The more progressive you are, the safer you are from censorship but more topics get censored every year.
First, understand the difference between a walled garden and the open Internet
- A walled garden is a platform that is fully controlled by a single company. It is typically free, easy to use, and at high risk of censorship.
- Think of this as a port with a port authority.
- The Open Internet uses open source technologies that no one company or government controls. It is typically more expensive, more technically complex, and at low risk of censorship.
- Think of it as the open ocean.
1. Your WordPress Website
It is nearly impossible to take down a website just because you disagree with it. This is particularly true if you use an open-source technology to host it like WordPress.org.
2. Your Self-Hosted Blog
Ideally, your website and blog are one and the same and running on WordPress. If this is the case, your blog is just as free from censorship as your website. The technology to subscribe to blogs, RSS, is open and free from censorship.
Interestingly, Google canceled its free Google Reader to discourage the use of RSS, because they can’t control or monetize it. Fortunately, it’s an open Internet technology and they can’t kill RSS. Alternatives like Feedly exist.
3. Your Email List
If people opt into your email list and know who you are, it is hard for a big tech company to break that connection. Even if a service like MailChimp were to kick you off (and yes, they de-platform authors for ideological reasons), you could take your list and leave for one of their hundreds of competitors.
4. Your Podcast
- The core technology behind podcasts is RSS, the same technology behind blogs. It is one of the most open technologies and there is virtually no way for your podcast to get fully censored.
- Big tech companies can make your podcast harder to find, but they can’t keep people from listening altogether.
Example of doing it right:
- This podcast episode gets posted to ChristianPublishingShow.com (safe)
- The episodes go out via RSS to subscribers (safe)
- The post gets posted to the SteveLaube.com WordPress blog (safe)
- An email goes out to SteveLaube.com email subscribers (safe)
At no point in that chain can a big tech company interfere with you getting this message. This is the power of the open Internet. Now, if you were to share a link to this post on Facebook, that could get censored, but not the content itself.
TL;DR Build Your Platform on the Open Internet, Not a Walled Garden
- Building your platform on social media platforms has been called digital sharecropping.
- When you are not paying for something, you are the product, not the customer.
- By opting for the siren song of free, many authors have built their platforms on shifting sand.
- You will make more money, but you will never make more time. So you owe it to yourself and to your readers to invest in the open Internet.
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