And then it happened again. A person, that I know very well, was gone. Away from Twitter. Account locked. Because of something very mundane. Nothing serious, not dangerous in a legal perspective, but maybe it was something uncomfortable for a specific group.
Social Media and centralized services like Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on have a lot of power over us. Through the years we entrusted our friends, our photos, business contacts, interests, political opinions and sometimes even more to centralized services. Because it was convenient. It was hip. The cool kids were using them. And it looked so nice. And it costs: nothing.
But now: we have a problem. We are at theirs mercy in some regard. Big centralized services, especially social media have fallen into the hands of other powers. Of governments which would like to survey these services. Or already do.
Fallen into the hands of radical groups which recruit legions to block opponents. Works for them, because social networks cannot verify every single case, everything has to be automated in some regard. Cannot distinguish between satire and fake news and blocks more than necessary. Of course, otherwise things could get expensive for the services. In Germany, there's the NetzDG for example.
So, the thing is: we are in the situation that we already should have a plan b. Now, not just in the moment an account is gone.
Being hacked also will create the same problems.
Questions to ask:
- do I have alternate contact information for my most important friends? Email, phone number or post address?
- do I have backups of the contact information? In the best case physically available, not only on a specific platform.
- does a service authentificate me at other services? In that case, other services might be affected as well.
- The contents on social networks are owned more or less by the social networks themselves. So backup your content. Or own the platform.
- sometimes it might be a good idea to replicate contents across various platforms. But: platforms are no content dumps. Think of any platform as a specific communication channel with its own specific needs and rules.
- Self hosting is less convenient but in doubt better protected of external forces.
- when in doubt, trust smaller, decentralized services. They aren't more secure by default, but most of the times not relevant enough for opponents or governments to interfere with.
- backup often, but also check that backups work.