I work in the IT industry. When a server goes down we have redundancy and a way to make it so that another server steps in to cover for the one that is down. When a server gets fried and stops working we have another one that steps in. And when we need to create new servers we quickly deploy them with scripts. We don't build each server configuration from scratch. We simply use the same configuration across many servers.
I think we need to view social media in a similar fashion. When an account gets banned that shouldn't be the end. That should just be the end of that account, but the brand continues on in a redundant fashion.
The main key to redundancy in social media is subscribers and content. That is the main piece that needs to be transferred to a new account. The same way we need to transfer programs and configuration with servers, we need to transfer subscribers and content with social media.
If when Infowars was taken down from Youtube and Infowars 2 popped up with the exact same subscribers we would hardly miss a beat. I don't know the exact rules on how it works with multiple accounts and if you can create a new account if you've been banned. I'm sure it may differ slightly from platform to platform. With that said, if a channel like Infowars is banned on Youtube that doesn't mean new content from Infowars is banned. It means that snapshot of what Infowars previously was at the time of the ban is banned.
We need some type of redundancy. And many Youtubers have already done this type of thing. Many Youtubers have multiple channels in the event that one is taken down. I think this is the type of approach we need to take.
Rather than try to get social media sites not to take accounts down, we should instead be finding a way to make it work knowing an account is going to be taken down. This is the new paradigm. It's not changing. So we need to find a way to work within it.
Subscribers & Content
So there are 2 main parts: subscribers and content. Both parts are very important. You need content to attract new subscribers and to bring in traffic, but you also need subscribers to have reach and to gauge your reach.
On some sites the permanence of content matters much more than on other sites. On Youtube content is huge. People search for your videos on Youtube, they come across them on Google, they're suggested them when watching other videos and so on. With Youtube the larger the archive of videos you have the better.
With Twitter and Facebook the content doesn't matter as much. People don't really search for old tweets or get tweets from search engines. With these platforms it's much more about what is current and what is coming in the future. This is where the subscriber base matters much more than the actual content equity developed previously.
So we have these 2 pieces that need to be made redundant: subscribers and content.
With subscribers there are different ways to go about this. The most obvious way would be to build some type of list of these users outside of the platform itself. Marketers have been doing this for years. That's why email lists exist. Online marketers build email lists that they control and then they market out from these. We need to create something like this in the social media world.
I'm not a big fan of centralized entities, but maybe to start out a centralized entity would be a viable option. Perhaps there could be some type of website that manages user lists for social media platform. Maybe a website could manage the status of all the accounts for a certain brand. We have places we go like the Bitbucket Status Page where we can quickly see that status of all channels of operation. We could have something similar to this for social media. We could have a status page for each brand and it could manage, via an open community, that status of these various accounts.
People could come through this site subscribe to various brands such as Infowars, Stefan Molyneux, Dave Rubin or what have you. This could almost be like a master user list. This could be the master subscriber base.
Of course the first thought is, well what's to stop this entity from banning a user? Nothing. But this site could be much more transparent in that it would allow users to download their entire subscriber list at any time. This site would be transparent and provide the tools needed for content providers to take their data with them. This would allow people to have their data outside of the platform. None of the social media sites do this. That's one of the largest problems.
You can't go to Youtube and download the usernames and emails of all your subscribers. In this platform you would have to be able to -- and whatever other useful, valuable things that could also be built. The purpose of social media sites is to lock you into their system, which I get. But we need a system that is built around transparent tools for content providers to become redundant with their brands, subscribers and hopefully content.
This takes care of the subscriber side of things. We still have the content side of things which is a whole other can of worms. For many platforms I don't think the content archive matters much. For Youtube I think the content archive matters a lot. This would be another thing to work around.
Why an alt-tech social site probably isn't the answer
Let me address the obvious thing. The big value of a site like Youtube is the huge userbase it has throughout the world. The value is entering Youtube and having access to all these people who don't already know about you finding out about you. The value is taking everyday people who don't even know about your ideas listening to your ideas. On newer niche video sites you don't have this and that's why it's so hard to make them work.
Sites usually start off niche. As they grow more mainstream they become less niche and need to cater to the majority. This is good and bad. It's good because you have a huge untapped user base, but it's bad because the majority can more easily shift the overton window of ideas. When you hit mainstream it is harder to piss less people off. And when you piss people off they are going to report you. And then the platform is going to have to side with the safe majority because they don't want to lose money to them. Why piss off the vast majority of people if you can satisfy them by simply removing one account?
So these large platforms have immense value and that is why having your content on them is important. Having redundant videos on 5 platforms that only you and your friends browse is pretty pointless. I mean, it's great for you to be able to get content to the people you want to, but it in no way penetrates into new groups or markets of people. It's simply speaking to the choir. This is the main reason people want to stay on larger platforms like Youtube.
And it's a challenge that will need to be explored more in order to solve it. Youtube banning isn't going away. It's only going to get worse. We don't want to simply backup content. That's easy. We can easily put videos on 10 other video platforms. But nobody is there. Nobody discovers our videos there. So how do we maintain that marketing piece that exists on large platforms like Youtube? Because that is really what hurts Youtube producers when their accounts are banned.
A call to action
I think we can at least work towards solving the subscriber problem. As to solving the content problem, well that's a bit more challenging. But we should work towards it and see what we can come up with. There's an answer to every problem. We just need to more accurately define and understand the problem.
I'm a software engineer. I could build something like this easily. I'm not exactly sure how all the details would work out, but that's where community involvement could help shape it. I think there is something to this idea. I think we need to think with the expectation that an account will be banned. I think we need to plan for the worst case scenario and then build some type of system to solve for that.
The answer isn't to plea the government or to plea these businesses. That won't work long term. The answer is to build an anti-fragile solution to this problem. We need to see what we do have power over, what we can do to alleviate these problems and then execute on that. We need to get together and come up with ideas on how to strategize around this.
If there is any type of interest behind this idea please hit me up and we can work through making something like this happen.
Filed under:Internet / Tech, Social Media, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Free Speech Except This