President Donald Trump was censored.
Censorship: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.
I make this clear not because it was right or wrong to take away DJT’s Twitter privileges. I make this clear as I’ve heard many argue that Trump wasn’t censored because Twitter (and the others) are private companies who can do what they want, and Trump can still easily reach his supporters in other ways. “Trump only got banned in certain places,” many have said. “Donald hasn’t lost his right to free speech!”
It’s a subtle moral high ground argument; as taking away free speech would be unconstitutional and wrong; moralizers can never be wrong.
It’s also a false argument.
Censorship is not stripping away your free speech. It’s effectively shutting you up. Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and others banded together to shut Trump the f*%# up.
Fair or foul? You decide.
Censorship is legal, especially when you’re the one holding the controls to everyone’s microphone. No one has a right, especially on a free platform like Twitter, to say whatever they want, or even the right to have an account. Donald Trump used his free speech right to say what he said; Twitter used their right to interpret his statements as they wished, and to ban him.
All in the game.
Twitter’s explanation of the banning, on the other hand, was incredibly sloppy. They said too much, put their foot in their own mouths, and have set themselves up to have their words thrown back at them in the future.
Their reasoning was based on how they (Twitter) decided to interpret Trump’s tweets to mean things that Trump didn’t actually say, but that Twitter determined he was referring to or encouraging.
Read the explanation and see for yourself. It’s not, “we’re banning him for saying THIS” — it’s, “we’re banning him because he said THIS — and that could mean THIS.”
It’s their right to do so. Maybe you did the same thing in your mind and are experiencing cognitive dissonance in rationalizing it now. Maybe you think I’m the one rationalizing to “defend” Trump (I’m accused of this every time I mention his name and don’t bash him in the next sentence). Funny how that works, no?
Twitter has set a standard now: Anyone whose words can be interpreted in a certain arbitrary way will be banned.
Two problems with this: 1) We don’t know the rules, as they’re always changing, and 2) We know this won’t happen anyway — and that’s exactly why Twitter’s handling of Trump was sloppy. They’ve set themselves up to look hypocritical (if you saw Jack and his Policy lead Vijaya on Joe Rogan two years ago, you know this has already happened).
But, they did what they did, so that’s out of the way. Now let’s talk about what (else) this means for you. Because there’s a lot.
Last week I spoke to an entrepreneurship class at an Illinois high school via Zoom. I didn’t have time to answer all of their questions in our 45 minutes, but I did in a 6-episode series that will air on the Work On Your Game Podcast later this month.
One topic that came up over and over again was branding.
The students seemed to take the most note of the fact that I have a presence on many social media platforms, XXX number of followers, and have done brand deals as an influencer with big name companies like Nike, Gatorade, Wendy’s and others.
The irony of all that brand presence and brand work is that I don’t have any followers.
Yes, my YouTube channel says I’m over 100,000. Twitter, 8,000. Instagram over 10,000. My Snap score is over 80,000. 17K on Facebook. My videos and programs have been pirated and passed around China (where there’s no YouTube) hundreds of millions of times.
But I don’t have any followers. And neither do you.
In banning Trump, Twitter made clear to everyone what I told you on Work On Your Game years ago: You own NOTHING on social media.
You don’t own your page.
You don’t own your profile bio.
You don’t own your platform.
You don’t own your subscriber / follower count.
Those followers of “yours” actually belong to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Snap, and whoever owns TikTok. You are their follower, actually.
Trump had 88 Million followers on Twitter. Trump is gone, yet all of those accounts still exist. So how many followers did he really have?
The same amount that you have I have: none.
Social media is a TOOL. You use tools to get the job done, then you put the tool away. The challenge for you: to the social media platforms, YOU are the tool to be used, and the owners are incentivized to use you as much as possible. Their engineers are smarter than your self-discipline.
If you are a brand owner, influencer, freelancer or entrepreneur, here’s the job (which you should know if you’ve been listening to me): Get your “followers” onto a platform that’s actually yours.
Something that you own. Like a contact list (emails, phone numbers, physical addresses).
That’s what YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok do. Think back to when you opened your social accounts. They all required your email and phone number. If location is activated on an app, they know where you live.
You don’t have any of that information about any of “your” followers. Because they’re not yours.
Instagram / Facebook offered $3 Billion to buy Snapchat. Why? They already knew how to build the stories functionality on their own (which they did when Snap refused the offer). They weren’t buying Snapchat’s technical skills. Facebook saw Snapchat as worth $3BB because of Snapchat’s user list.
Read: Your name, phone number and email address was worth $3 Billion to Facebook. That’s what they were paying for.
If you’re not using social media as a tool, they’re using you: Your content raises engagement and “time-on-site,” which they sell to advertisers for more money. AND/OR, your engagement as a user gives them more and more psychographic data about you, which they use to algorithmically serve you more stuff that keeps you on the site, sucking the time (life) out from you.
You’re an unpaid pawn in the social media game.
I’m not telling you to stop using social media. I probably use it more than you do. I’m telling you to stop getting used by social media. There’s a difference.
1) Social media is NOT free. You pay with your life: privacy, identity and time.
2) Your right to free speech on social media is limited to whom you offend, how much they’re offended, and the general public opinion around the offense. If they can ban the President, they can ban you.
First rule of Economics: There is no such thing as a free lunch. “Free” speech is not free. Ask Donald Trump.
3) You don’t have any followers. Followers are a metric that social media made up to let you feel important while they’re the ones controlling the chessboard. They can shut off your mic whenever they feel like it. Don’t get played.
When you think of your online “audience,” don’t think of your subscriber/follower count, because it’s not yours. Instead, think of your contact list. If you don’t have a contact list, start one.
And, if your business’ foundation is a social media account, you don’t have a business. You are social media’s product. They pass you around as they please and set a price on you. You do not participate in the profits. You do have the option to walk away, but you can’t because you’re addicted to the apps. The algorithms are designed to keep you addicted.
And you thought slavery was over.
I addressed this and more in episode #1114: “How Much Does Social Media Matter To or For Your Business?”
Listen here: http://DreAllDay.com/1114-