The Dangers of Social Media in 2020 – what you NEED to know as a creator or a user

Following up on some recent videos and livestreams regarding social media, here is what you NEED to know as either a creator or as just a user (or both) regarding social media platforms in 2020:

  1. Terms of Service are a red herring.
  2. Each platform represents a technical monopoly with little or no competition
  3. The core functionality is severely damaged

I’ll expand on these below, but here’s what this basically translates into:

  1. There is no behavior pattern that can keep you from getting banned
  2. The “alternative” platforms are not alternatives at all
  3. The service is set up to NOT give you what you want from it.

Hence, here are some basic pieces of advice:

  1. Know that your time is limited
  2. Be anonymous if possible
  3. Limit or avoid use as much as possible

This may seem like weird advice coming from a dude who hocks his books on twitter and YouTube constantly, uses his real name, and can’t seem to step away from the computer without publishing something on social media, but the advice is worth considering, especially if you are “just a user” of social media and don’t run a YouTube channel.

Terms of Service are a red herring.

In other words, the Terms of Service for these platforms are there to make you think that there exists a certain ruleset for the use of the platform, when in reality there are no rules at all and everything is subject to the whims of employees in the moment.

Think about it. The meaning of ToS is subject to what the company says. It is their prerogative if they want to enforce it, or not, or in what way. They are also necessarily vague and contain no specifics whatsoever. Things like “hate speech” are purely interpretive. This is by design.

But even that is a distraction. Spending your time trying to wonder what the employees of SocNet inc. think constitutes hate speech is a waste of time. Thinking about what truth you must avoid uttering to keep your channel is a waste of time. The truth is, it’s not about what you say, it’s about who you are and what you represent. If you are deemed opposed to the desired order, there is nothing you can do to avoid being shit-canned.

You can be banned at any time for any reason, any appeal is just another distraction designed to get you to waste your time and energy on something that cannot be changed.

It’s a classic tactic of the left – appeal to a set of “rules” that you insist the other side must follow, while you acknowledge no rules whatsoever. It gets your enemies to weaken their speech or actions in some anticipation of a thing that isn’t subject to their behavior at all.

The Terms of Service do NOT matter and asking “why” someone got banned is equally pointless. THERE ARE NO RULES. What is signaled to be acceptable speech today will be anathema tomorrow.

Each platform represents a technical monopoly with little or no competition

On a basic level, technical monopolies are those that occur because a monopoly is inevitable, the most efficient arrangement, or the only possibility within a certain economic sphere. Your neighborhood roads must necessarily be singular roads, thus they cannot be subject to regular market competition that produces a diversity of offerings. You can’t have competing roads going in front of your house without a HUGE loss of efficiency and wasted space.

Social media has arrived at a point with three main players offering three different products: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These offer real-life social media, public microblogging, and user-generated video, respectively. Each of these arrives at the technical monopoly status because the point of social media is to interact with other people. Everyone is on Facebook because everyone is on Facebook.

If you want to share photos, etc. with your real-life friends, that is the platform you must be on. Going to something like Minds, which might have similar functionality, is pointless because your friends don’t use it.

Likewise users want to go to ONE place to see content of a particular category. They don’t want to have to check Facebook and twenty competitors to check up on their friends. Likewise, they don’t want to have to post to twenty different sites. It’s the same with the other two platforms.

Lastly, several of the companies (Twitter and YouTube) actually LOSE money on paper, which means that if you are starting up a similar service you are competing against a company that literally cannot lose enough money to fold.

What this means is that, whether you like it or not, you are bound to use the bigger platforms if you want to experience social media in the standard way. If you get banned, you are banned from that CATEGORY of content entirely.

Bitchute is an amazing platform that has done considerable good, especially taking into account how little money they have used to build the platform, but its functionality isn’t at YouTube’s level yet and, more importantly, it has less users. That means as a video content producer if you are NOT using YouTube you are shooting yourself in the foot. You are resigning yourself to having far fewer people watch your videos.

Honestly, it is the same with Amazon. If I avoid Amazon out of some self-important moral objection to their politics, I’m acquiescing to selling no books. When I go wide 99% of my sales are through Amazon.

Being banned from a platform as a creator has SIGNIFICANT negative consequences. Even users have big losses from being banned, as they can no longer use things like Facebook marketplace, which has largely sucked up the space formerly held by Craigslist.

The core functionality is severely damaged.

When I mean functionality, I mean from the user/creator perspective. The core functionality of social media from the company’s perspective is to gather user data to provide targeted ads.

The loss of functionality is the result of both the monopoly status of these companies as well as the conflict between the company’s interest and the desired product the consumer is asking for. If the company gives the user what it wants (things like a CHRONOLOGICAL feed), they cannot as effectively force targeted ads onto the user.

It gets worse than this when you realize that the employees who administer the service are disconnected from the profit motive and the users themselves, to the point where (as mentioned above) they often lose money. The employees, who are highly converged, view the purpose of the site in political terms – the site should exist to promote the right ideas, not allow people to discuss conflicting ideas in a neutral space.

I think Facebook is the most egregious example of this loss of functionality. The site began by offering a service people genuinely liked and quickly became addicted to. You could open it up and see what all your friends were up to and interreact with them. People loved sharing their life events on a variety of scales and enjoyed endorphin rushes when people paid attention to them.

Over time, though, the service began to change, and these changes were not to make the site more enjoyable for users – rather the opposite. First, they made the default experience non-chronological, then removed chronological ordering. This was so they could serve more ads, or “promoted” posts and could control what people saw and when. The result for the user was that he stopped seeing what he wanted to see, and his friends stopped seeing his posts. For the creator, he had to now pay Facebook for the privilege of the company showing his content to people who wanted to see it.

Naughty users can be shadowbanned (happens on twitter, too via the same means), thus reducing the need for the outright banning of anyone. At the same time, the users who piled on the service at the beginning of its life have habituated it into their routines and are still addicted to the socially-triggered endorphins, only they get much less of them compared to when the site was usable.

It gets worse.

Since the site is run by ideologues who work for a monopoly, they use the service to program people not just to use the service, but to be social justice NPCs. I caught onto this in 2016 (though this has repeated, like with BLM humiliation rituals) when my entire friends list spammed the same five words after the election of Donald Trump: racist, sexist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, bigot. There was no variation, even in the word order. They had been literally brainwashed by the platform, which was set up to show them agitating news stories by Huffington Post and CNN over and over, since those platforms were boosted by the algorithms and paid the privilege fee.

These users were not even remotely aware of how the platform worked to show them the agitprop that consumed them. They, at least in the moment, genuinely thought the site was working the way it did in 2010. Sharing news stories is not only more profitable than user photos, it was also much more effective at keeping users on the platform, as the rush of negative emotions prompted actions seeking relief, just as strong as the need for the addictive social endorphins. The conditioning of users was an added benefit.

So, what do you do with Facebook, now that it no longer serves its core purpose?

The only option is to quit, since there are no alternatives. You can’t go to another, more functional Facebook if your friends aren’t there. You simply take your methadone, or you take the black pill.

Twitter and YouTube have gone through similar alterations. You can end up quite lonely on twitter with thousands of followers if nobody ever sees your posts. It’s quite demoralizing to lose 80% of your views in a week on YouTube simply because the company decided that you shouldn’t have any of your content shown to those who want to see it.

My Advice

Let me re-iterate my advice, hopefully now with more context:

  1. Know that your time is limited. This is a mindset, not so much an active way of doing things. You have to adopt that samurai mentality on one side (“I am already dead”) and also hedge all of your bets on the other. Have accounts on the alt-tech sites, even if they have lower user numbers. Have a twitter AND a YouTube AND a Facebook page, even if you focus on one platform. Make sure you run your own blog or website, hosted separately. When you get banned, you can go to the alternative and still have some fun and/or still do some business.
  2. Be anonymous if possible. This limits the liability of enemies accosting you outside of the internet for thoughtcrime, or God forbid, doing something like calling the police or CPS on you for voting the wrong way. This also protects you from brainwashed friends doing the same thing, and I can tell you that I now consider most of my Facebook friends a liability in that regard. There are negatives to anonymity on social media, but you don’t need to worry about those debates. The first priority is survival, safety, and hopefully fun.
  3. Limit use or avoid use if possible. That means deleting Facebook, using twitter only on the weekends, and watching Bitchute instead of YouTube. Or just reading a book and calling a friend instead of doing any of them. Personally, I would have already deleted my Facebook if I were not an author. It’s simply an unusable shithole of negativity. 99% of my hate mail comes through my Facebook author page, and I don’t even like to open the site now. Even my wife, who I reconnected with after college ON Facebook, has deleted her account.

It’s a bit too late for me to take all of my own advice. I’m in the position I’m in because I operated under legacy understandings of social media. If you are a new creator, or just a user trying to enjoy the internet, you have more options. For me, the problem is trying to run my business with all of these problems going on.

On the bright side, if it all comes crashing down I can start taking my own advice. I can start from ground zero with a pseudonym, build a new channel from the ground up, re-launch my books with better covers, etc. But I really don’t want to do all that. I like being who I am. I like smiling for the camera. But I’ll probably be made to suffer for it.

The Biggest Black Pill of them All

I hate to end on a low note, but I must mention this.

The final arbiter of your personhood online is not SocNet, inc. It is Banking, inc.

Payment processors are driving censorship as hard as social media companies. Host your own store on your own site? Great, but what do you do when PayPal, Square, etc. ban you from their platforms? Are you going to deposit checks from your customers? What happens when Chase closes your account because you said badthink on twitter?

This is a FAR bigger problem than getting banned on twitter, and it’s already here, so again, consider my advice.

I’ll quote Steven Erikson:

“Every decision you make can change the world. The best life is the one the gods don’t notice. You want to live free, boy, live quietly.”
“I want to be a soldier. A hero.”
“You’ll grow out of it.”

-Gardens of the Moon

I write all sorts of cool books, but if you are reading this, chances are you are a creative type. I wrote a book just for you, to help you develop and refine your creative process so that you can finish your projects on time and under budget:

But you also might just be a fantasy fan:

8 Comments

  1. Very very insightful and true. Thank you, David. I have been sharing this around.

  2. literally hitler

    The normie masses ruined the internet. I miss the late 90s/early 00s internet where there was mostly nerds, zero social media, and instead everyone had their own little corner somewhere dedicated to a niche or hobby.

  3. Hey David! <3
    Love your content dude.
    Ty for your effort.

  4. Pingback: New Indie Author Advice – Amatopia

  5. David, your advice here seems to contradict your last comment on your other domain’s about page. How do you square the two problems?

    “Just as concerning – people refusing to do the right thing for fear of losing access to their income.”

    http://davidvstewart.com/about/

    • 1) I’m talking about something completely different
      2) Protecting yourself from mobs is not refusing to do the right thing.
      3) A lot can change in a few years – my latest advice is going to be the most relevant.

      It’s not wise for most people to operate with a legacy understanding of social media – ie real names. Most people are trapped by dependency on a job. That’s reality. I’m lucky in that I’m NOT, but I am dependant on the internet, and that can be taken away from me.
      On the upside, when I am banned from everything, a prospective employer won’t find any trace of my existence online to avoid hiring me!

  6. Here’s a possible interesting alternative to Twitter (though as someone else online put it, I personally “Will not have anything to do with Twitter for the same reason I do not wander through fields looking for the lid to hell.”)

    https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/06/conservatives-turn-to-bias-free-alternative-to-twitter.php

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