tl;dr : push social networks back, Post stuff to your own space first, link to it, worst case copy & paste the content across, with a link. Retain some control, easily done.
I regularly post on Facebook and Twitter, occasionally on (many) other social networks. I really like being able to communicate with friends and acquaintances, have fun, share ideas.
But there are sides to these systems that I really don’t like. These are well-known, things like privacy issues and censorship. Your interactions on the Web being harvested for the purpose of advertising or even more sinister ends. A common factor is that to play the game, you give up control.
But that really isn’t necessary.
One easy way to take back control is to get yourself a blog.
Instead of posting directly to one of the big services, do your thing (political argument, dirty joke, quiche photo) in another space. Then re-post where you like.
Sure, make sure you can kill the account when you want, export your data. But that’s generally taken as read now.
There is even a practical benefit. If I have a brilliant thought I want to tell everyone, in my case, mostly Twitter & Facebook, I need different versions to work with those. Facebook, copy/paste some key elements (possibly lots of content) and link, Twitter, maybe just link. The Web is an infrastructure designed for linking stuff together, it also has loads of features that aren’t available on the popular social networks sites (they are sad little subsections really) – use it!
Getting your own blog is very easy, I’m typing now into a free WordPress account. Yes, it has advertising, plenty of features I don’t like. But I can still communicate in the same way but with more control than to social networks directly. For me, I’m pretty lax about privacy etc, this setup is fine. But I’ve pulled out a significant layer of dependency on some potentially dodgy big company. Climbed out of the silo.
That’s it really.
I’ll call back on Steven Pemberton, a lowlander computer expert I admire. I’ve heard him argue very well that Everyone Should Have a Web Site. I’m essentially trying to say the same here, but lite. There is time & effort in running your own site, but given circumstances now, you can get almost as much benefit with virtually no overhead just using something like a blog site.
It’s taken me a very long time to actually put this in practice, in the sense I mean. But here it is, post here (or elsewhere) first, use the links.
I know exactly how hard it can be at times, trying to do your own thing, compared to just dropping something into say Facebook. Lost so many domain names through incompetence, wasted so many hours on unsustainable systems. But the answer is hidden in plain sight.
Anecdote to wrap up :
For a period of about 9 months, perhaps 2006-ish (?), if you Googled “Danny”, global top hit was my blog! Relatively obscure shite about the Semantic Web or photos of my cats. Thing was, I used to comment on lots of very high-profile tech blogs at the time, signing as Danny, with my blog’s URL. So every time one of those millions of visitors to say Tim Bray’s blog had a look, it notched up my ranking with Google’s algorithm at the time. (no-follow etc etc put paid, but my ego enjoyed it while it lasted).
I had http://dannyayers.com (archive.org now) for about 10 years. Mostly using my own awful hacked-together content management system. Was roughly coincident I lost that domain name (skint) and Web 2.0 Twitter & FB came along, where I was an early adopter. I gave up, nearly. Now mostly at http://hyperdata.it, or here.