Judge, Jury, and Executioner: How to protect yourself against social media de-platforming in 2024

February 29, 2024


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Guest author: Stuart Meczes, Creative Director, Contnt

As 2023 drew to a close, a couple of high-profile cases once again prompted debate over de-platforming. X sued Media Matters over their report on ads appearing next to antisemitic content. Not long after, over 100 users threatened to leave Substack over its platforming of Nazi writers.

Sometimes, a high-profile person is de-platformed with good reason: Andrew Tate being a clear example. But de-platforming also happens to everyday creators with little explanation and dire consequences. I should know, it happened to me.

A book of mine on a popular platform saw a sudden surge in sales and reviews. Taking advantage of the momentum, I dropped the price, sold more, and soon more reviews followed. Then suddenly everything was gone: I was accused of paying for reviews, the majority of them were deleted, and my book was taken off the site. My livelihood was put in jeopardy over an algorithmic misunderstanding.

I eventually got it reinstated, but it took me making a lot of noise, even going so far as writing directly to the head of the platform, and hundreds of reviews were lost for good. This was extremely disappointing, but I was lucky – even if I never got that book back on the platform, it was still my legal intellectual property and my publisher and I could take it elsewhere. 

For many creators, however, de-platforming is more like watching your home burn down: security, memories, and stability all turned to ash. If your career as a content creator is on the rise, here’s what you should do to protect yourself against the risk of mistaken de-platforming.

Back up your work

The thing about creating on social media platforms is that all users are required to agree to their Terms of Service, and those terms are stacked in favor of the platform. In other words, it’s really hard to fight back if you’re de-platformed. While you may appeal the decision and be granted access to all your hard work once again, there is also the risk that you lose it all faster than the time it took to set up your account. 

So while it requires extra time and effort, make sure you’re backing up everything worth saving that you’re sharing online. By the time your content is bringing in money, it’s likely that you’ve already invested in professional tools for recording and safekeeping off-platform. But if you started out posting directly to socials using in-app tools, you’re going to have to download that material to a safe personal place (preferably not exclusively to a cloud service where it’s also vulnerable to providers’ ToS). 

Image credit: Videodeck .co on Unsplash.

Establish ownership of your material

While backing up your work ensures it’s not lost to de-platforming, the only true way to completely protect your digital material is to turn it into an asset in which your ownership is undisputed, such as NFTs.

By using decentralized web3 technology, not only are you able to prove your ownership over the work (which also protects against others stealing your intellectual property), you’re giving it the immutability provided by blockchain.

It is important to highlight, however, that many social media platforms are dependent on web2 technology, so minting your work would have to occur off the platforms or on web3-enabled platforms. 

Connect with your community in more ways than one

Losing years of work would be devastating to any creator, but losing an engaged audience is far worse. Protect your relationships with your community by establishing alternative avenues for connection. 

Many successful creators do this by repurposing their content across more than one platform, but this can be a labor-intensive option, especially if you’re a team of one.

One vital step is to set up channels you have more control over, without a platform playing the role of middleman. For example, email lists, newsletters, and/or personal websites keep you connected to your most loyal fans even if you’re suddenly barred from all your socials. 

Newsletters are particularly good at forging deeper connections if you let subscribers in on material they can’t find in your usual content. Fostering this more intimate base of supporters also comes in handy if you’re unfairly de-platformed as they’re going to be the folks most willing to advocate for you. 

This doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Websites like Wix, GoDaddy, and MailChimp are all user-friendly, streamline set up, and offer free plans. It’s worth it to ensure you never lose the audience you’ve worked so hard to build. 

Be your own safety net 

If you want to be in the content creation business for the long run, you need to set yourself up for a rainy day. When my writing career started to take off, I was so excited by simply having new readers, I didn’t think to build the foundations that were crucial when I suddenly had no place to sell my books. 

For one, brand deals and even the platforms themselves won’t last forever. X (formally Twitter) exemplifies how digital spaces are highly subject to sudden change. So the minute you start monetizing, start saving. A financial safety net can keep you afloat if unfair de-platforming interferes with your income.

This will also better prepare you to take legal action if you’re de-platformed without clearly violating terms of service. If you feel you’ve been de-platformed undeservedly, I highly recommend you keep calm and seek legal counsel. You will absolutely want to shout and scream and fight back, but the best thing you can do is talk to a professional who can advise you on the best next steps. And professionals are expensive. 

Finally, remember that while the road to “making it” as a content creator is challenging, creating authentically and finding your audience is the best way to set yourself up for a long career. Trending pranks, controversial hot takes, and misappropriating other’s content will boost your follower counts, but they are also surefire paths to eventual de-platforming. Viral videos may come and go, but genuine connection persists.

Stuart Meczes is a bestselling author and Creative Director at Contnt, a subscription-based platform transforming the creator economy.

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.


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