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Thursday, 14 March 2019 18:58

Beware the great social media scam Featured

Beware the great social media scam Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It has often been said that on the Internet content is king. The current batch of parasitic social media monopolists discovered this long ago and, ever since, they have ripped off and exploited unwitting content producers.

Consider this. As an active user of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you have agreed to hand over your personal details, allow the owners of the platforms to sell your data to third parties, and provide them with free content.

And what do you get in return for the value you provide so freely? Nothing.

Content providers to social media receive zero compensation.

They receive no money, no direct access to the subscriber base they have painstakingly built up except through the platform, and no way of safely keeping an archive of their own content or subscribers.

Many YouTube content providers with hundreds of thousands and even millions of subscribers to their channels, and years of videos with millions of views, have woken up to find their channels wiped overnight.

In any commonsense world, the content and the subscriber bases rightfully belong to the content creators and nobody else.

As a journalist of 33 years standing, I am well aware of the copyright laws surrounding the content I produce – I own it, regardless of where I choose to have it published.

I have worked for the two major newspaper publishers in Australia.

As part of the conditions of my employment, in addition to my salary each year, I would receive a substantial payment from the publisher as a copyright fee for the license to publish my articles.

Quite often my newspaper would receive a request from a third party to reprint one of my articles.

The request was always passed on to me as the copyright holder and I had full authority to grant or deny the request, as well as command a fee if I so desired.

Likewise, several government departments and educational bodies would often reprint multiple copies of my articles. The Copyright Agency in Australia to which I subscribed would police these activities, obtain payment and forward the funds to me.

Why should it be any different in the online space?

If you wish to post licence-free content to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, then that’s your choice. However, why should they be able to make money off your content from the advertising and your personal data without giving you a fair share of the spoils?

YouTube’s demonetisation activity over recent years, involving several popular channels, is nothing short of scandalous.

Highly popular alternative news channels have been arbitrarily demonetised using the spurious excuse of “content deemed not suitable for advertising".

Since when is any sort of news or opinion that stays within the bounds of legality considered not suitable for advertising?

Just as bad is the disgraceful practice of withholding direct contact between content producers and their subscribers. As a result, content creators have no subscriber database and hence no security in the audience they have painstakingly built.

LinkedIn, until recently, was a notable exception to this. The business-oriented social network made a song and dance about its users being the owners of their connections database.

With LinkedIn, it was easy to download and export your contacts to an Excel spreadsheet or another database. Alas, no longer.

Since Microsoft got hold of the company, it has become increasingly difficult to export your contacts. And most recently, LinkedIn incredibly no longer allows users to export their contacts’ email addresses, rendering the download facility useless.

That being the case, LinkedIn has ceased to be a valuable business tool for me.

Last year, I deleted my Facebook account as I hardly ever used it. I don’t miss it. YouTube for me is just a platform for viewing rather than posting. As for Twitter, I can’t remember the last time I tweeted anything.

Not one of these social media companies could survive without the content so willingly donated by the rank and file users who allow themselves and their privacy to be abused for no return.

I can do without these insidious organisations having access to my content and my life and it is my best hope that others will come to the same conclusion sooner rather than later.


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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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