036 How to Protect Your Author Platform from Big Tech Censorship

Here are the show notes for the most recent episode of the Christian Publishing Show.

You can listen to this episode here.

 

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. 

Pinterest Censorship

Twitter Censorship

YouTube (owned by Google) Censorship

Facebook Censorship

Instagram (owned by Facebook) Censorship

Who has been targeted so far:

Not all Christian authors have been targeted.

Who has been targeted so far (that I know about): 

  • Pro-Lifers
  • Complementarians
  • 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. 

Safer Platforms

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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The post 036 How to Protect Your Author Platform from Big Tech Censorship appeared first on Christian Publishing Show.

20 Responses to 036 How to Protect Your Author Platform from Big Tech Censorship

  1. Avatar
    Brennan S. McPherson August 6, 2019 at 4:51 am #

    Very interesting. Thanks for the show-notes! That’s how I “listen.” 🙂

    I recently took a look at my web traffic and realized my blog was bringing in way more unique visitors than expected. One blog post in particular was bringing in over 1,000 unique visitors in 12 months through organic search. Blogs can still be quite valuable and stable sources of traffic. Tricky to do them well, though.

  2. Avatar
    Katie August 6, 2019 at 6:21 am #

    Thank you for the helpful article!

  3. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell August 6, 2019 at 6:30 am #

    Very interesting! Thanks for the information

  4. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 6, 2019 at 6:43 am #

    They do not like that which I say,
    nor that I say it well.
    To be liked, I must nicely play
    with those born of Hell.
    I’m warned to never speak of sin
    to avoid offence to sinners,
    but there I would be steeped within
    Demonomics for Beginners.
    They call it a walled garden,
    but I can’t help wonder why
    they saw fit a roof to harden
    to protect from God on High?
    They think they win, so far ahead,
    but they forget that He rose from dead.

  5. Avatar
    Norma Brumbaugh August 6, 2019 at 8:06 am #

    So disheartening but good to know. I’d been wondering if something like this was going on. I’ve become more bold with my subject matter on my blog and on Twitter and have wondered if it will have an adverse effect in the long run. I understand that Amazon is playing this game, too (by removing conversion therapy books). I’ve upped my praying game as a counter initiative to the crisis of thought in this current state of affairs in the global view and marketing of anti Christian sentiment. Emboldened voices need exactly the information you’re supplying here. Thank you so much.

    • Avatar
      Michael McMillan August 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm #

      I have written a novel that includes ex-gay characters who give their lives to Christ. This is not even the main plot of the book, but it will be seen as controversial. With the way things are going, I don’t know if I will ever be able to get it published. Anti-Christian sentiment is getting so pervasive.

  6. Avatar
    Yvonne Weers August 6, 2019 at 8:14 am #

    I might be misunderstanding how to read my website analytics, but I suspect that some of the unique visitors are bots that scour the Internet looking for keywords. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s a bit unnerving.

    So, I just finished my website and I’m using Homestead. I own and manage several websites for business using this platform. Now I’m concerned, as my opening line says I’m a follower of Jesus, I wonder if it’ll be suppressed by this host?

    Also, I use to use their blogging platform until I lost everything while porting over to an updated website. So, I took my blog to a third party and have just started it again using Blogger. There’s an RSS code for subscribers, so does this mean my content is safe on Blogger?

    Thanks for your timely post!

  7. Avatar
    Colleen K Snyder August 6, 2019 at 8:17 am #

    2 Tim 4:3… the time will come when they (the world) will not accept (or tolerate) sound doctrine (or any doctrine) but will heap up teachers that will tickle their itchy ears… that’s the Snyder Version (mine.) I appreciate the information on how (for now) we can still get out our content uncensored. The enemy has been defeated… but the “game” has to be played out.

  8. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins August 6, 2019 at 9:51 am #

    We live in a science fiction world. Maybe someday there will be brain implants to control us all. The internet is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to marketing.

    • Avatar
      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 10, 2019 at 1:17 pm #

      Jan, they put a brain implant in me, and the high-gain oscillatory feedback will blow the servers from here to Peking.

      Yeah, I know it’s ‘Beijing’; I just refuse to cooperate.

  9. Avatar
    Randy Haglund August 6, 2019 at 10:44 am #

    Very informative. As a low-tech person, I found it to be alarming, although I was relieved to hear that my WordPress blog was safe. Should I consider switching from mailchimp?

  10. Avatar
    Lori August 6, 2019 at 11:00 am #

    Thomas, is Blogger a safe platform like WordPress?

    • Avatar
      Thomas Umstattd August 7, 2019 at 7:53 am #

      Blogger is owned by Google, so it is not an open internet technology.

  11. Avatar
    Audra Sanlyn August 6, 2019 at 11:18 am #

    Thank you for this post. It’s incredibly helpful, as I’m currently building my platform in preparation for a forthcoming book that’s centered around a very controversial topic.

  12. Avatar
    Sonja Anderson August 6, 2019 at 11:19 am #

    I subscribed to Children’s Writer’s Institute just now, but the freebie looks like an e-book on book proposals, not your course on building a website. Anything else I need to click on or do?

    Thanks for this episode, Thomas! I always learn a lot. I am SO bummed I didn’t listen to a workshop years ago about choosing WordPress.org over .com. I went with .com because the other one seemed more complicated (heavy sigh).

    How do I switch? Btw, I pay an annual fee to WordPress.com–I THINK it’s to keep ads off my site and to keep ‘WordPress’ out of the domain name. I just paid for another year, but I think I need to switch by next summer.

  13. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson August 6, 2019 at 1:54 pm #

    Wow! I am glad I read this message. Thank you.

  14. Avatar
    Peggy August 6, 2019 at 5:04 pm #

    This is scary. Thanks for the info!

  15. Avatar
    Abby McDonald August 6, 2019 at 5:52 pm #

    Thank you for this valuable info! Pinterest is actually still my top referrer. (knock on wood) I write about faith in the midst of life’s struggles and messes.

  16. Avatar
    Karen Friday August 12, 2019 at 7:17 am #

    Hey Thomas, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon a few years ago for my author platform and it absolutely drove more traffic to my site. And I thought this podcast was eyeopening last week. But this week, today, I was notified by Pinterest that my account has been suspended as it goes against their spam policies. So, I read the spam policies and replied that I wanted to appeal on the basis of how I don’t believe my content or pins go against any of those policies. I received a reply stating that my account will not be reinstated and I can not sign up for an account in the future because “most” of my pins go against their spam policies. My blog theme is hope. But it’s hope in Christ and I mention Jesus and scriptures often. Here’s part of the note from Pinterest: “On Pinterest, spam includes saving lots of unwanted or repetitive stuff, trying to game our systems, or posting fraudulent, deceptive or unsolicited commercial messages. We block spam like this because it creates a bad experience for other people on Pinterest.” I never dreamed after your podcast last week, this would happen to me a week later.

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