Free “as in beer” blogging and web hosting platforms may be convenient, but should you really rely on them?
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunities web services, like Vivaldi’s blog or webmail, presents to it’s users. Obviously, I find some value in it or I wouldn’t be using them. But, anyone who takes it upon themselves to use such services should also know what to expect from them and how to properly handle them. Much like having a bear cub as a pet, if you don’t act responsibly and treat it accordingly, things can go very bad for you very quickly.
What motivated me to write about this subject was the recent news articles I’ve been reading about the “Truckers for Freedom” protest, happening here in Canada, and how GoFundMe shutdown their fund-raiser account and Facebook closed the US “Freedom Convoy” page. Here is a perfect example on how “free” service providers can claim ownership of anything their users do with their services and, for any reason they see fit, can censor everything they do and silence them any time they wish. It doesn’t matter if the activities being carried out are illegal or not. If the service providers don’t like something you’re doing, the rights you thought you had as a free citizen in a free society have no bearing on the matter. They don’t like you, you’re gone.
I know that using well established platforms, like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter gives the user great exposure to share their message with the world. But, just remember that if your message does not conform to the world view or ideology held by the establishment, you won’t be heard for very long.
This is why I think now is the time for people, who really do cherish freedom of speech and freedom of thought, should consider setting up alternative personal platforms that they can fall back to when the corporately provided ones try to silence them. As the months go on, it seems to me like on-line censorship is getting worse and corporations continue to over-extend their reach and influence.
To do so, you’ll need to spend a little time and a little money to set things up. But, there are so many affordable hosting services (ISPs) out there right now, it literally pennies a day to own a personal blog and e-mail server that you control yourself. Some of these service providers also offer free domain names to go along with your shiny new server space.
Once you get yourself all setup, you can then use the “free” platforms to let your readers and e-mail contacts know where you’ve set up house. So if/when the “free” providers don’t like what you’re saying and close your account, your audience will know where they can find you.
I know that it isn’t the perfect solution, as governments can force ISPs to shut people down there, too. But the process for that is a little more complicated than some Facebook admin. just making a determination and deleting an account. If nothing else, by using your own server account, at least you retain ownership of your content and are not forced to give up publication rights to the platform providers.
Think about it. If you agree with me, but are not sure how to proceed, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below, send an email to my Vivaldi e-mail address, or track me down on my personal web page, here: https://www.chorusgrove.site If I can help you with securing your web independence, I’d happily do so.
Also, if you have your own thoughts on this subject, please feel free to share them with me in the comments.
This is a huge topic, but on the smallest scale, yeah, splitting up into smaller, more “decentralized” chunks is the way to stay independent online. I’ve used and hung out on sites that have needed to hop hosts because not all ISPs play ball–eventually they find one that does work, though it’s usually pretty expensive. (They also run forums and other web apps, in fairness. A static site is always cheaper.) I don’t really speak out politically (though I’m certainly in support of the truckers), but I have a personal site network for me and some friends, and the freedom in expression and toys to play with through our ISP has paid for itself several times over.
In terms of the bigger picture, though, I think also NOT relying on the internet is the key to staying uncensored. I think that anything online can be censored or tracked if the desire is there, far easier than print media through the mail or even older mass communication like radio. While the internet can be good for quickly organizing something more tangible, I think it needs to become tangible for it to stay extant. I don’t believe in more technology like BitChute’s failed attempt to use WebTorrent technology being able to fix censorship, not least of which because the internet is a black box as it is. You don’t achieve transparency with more layers of black paint. People can only trust what they understand. Even if that means less reach, in-person communication is irreplaceable.
The internet is a very good tool for spreading an idea very quickly, but it itself does not affect change except over its own domain. For ideas to remain available, I think they need to eventually make their way to the physical world and spread in pamphlets or booklets or newsletters, whatever works, not just across the internet. It’s hard to round up all 5,000 copies of a small booklet to destroy them all. It’s very easy to delete an MP4 or to take a popular site offline, and mirrors are not guaranteed.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. You make a very good point in regards to over-reliance on the Internet and technology. Printed books also are not susceptible to EMP wiping out it’s contents and remains readable, no matter how much the technology changes. A 100 year old book can still be read, but good luck on reading a 50 year old floppy disk. Even if you still had the compatible equipment to do so, the ability to read the magnetic surface degrades as the years go on.
Books burn, mold, and get eaten by bugs. Everything rots in time.
“Look On My Works Ye Mighty, And Despair”
Yes, that is true. Nothing lasts forever… well, at least not in this kingdom. 😉
Firstly, it looks as if GoFundMe is refunding all the donors after some pressure. And this effort has been moved to GiveSendGo. Which is my answer to your question, that it is more about finding the right platform than using the popular platform. Vivaldi blogs are the right platform for me, and I have been there with owning my own domain and site and using the Big Tech social media. Short of the long, I was hot linking images from Flickr to the blog site, and both changed their business model which caused my blog posts to be unreadable. So when I moved to Vivaldi I inquired about what I was looking to do, and they kindly provided me the parameters and understanding. I now keep words and pictures on one platform!
I have been thinking a lot like you, to post similar content on several platforms as a backup. In short, I follow my blog now with the Vivaldi RSS reader, as well as have the post copies in the blog itself. My original blog posts are made in a Word like document and stored in the cloud. I use private social media sites similar to the ideals of Vivaldi, and other platforms mostly where Sir Tim Barners Lee is an advisor.
So, what I am saying is that, yes, I have to trade not having my own domain address (which I think is over rated) and other freedoms. But, like with these blogs, I don’t have to look for commenters or take care of the back end as much. So I think what Vivaldi is doing here with blogs and webmail is brilliant. I just have to always use their search and other methods that help them make money.
So, short of the long, finding the right platforms works better (for me) than owning my own. When they change business models, not if, I’m okay with that and ready to move on.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I think you have a very sound approach to the situation. I also compose my blog posts in a word processor (of sorts), first. If I ever need or want to post the content elsewhere, other than Vivaldi, it’s easy for me to do.
Thank you. Yes, it is good to have a back up. But I don’t see that Vivaldi blogs will change business model of them in the foreseeable future. When I was on WP.com the advertising for the free version started getting more and more crazy, plus the logo on the Reeder feed kept changing for the political narrative of the month. Vivaldi it seems stays neutral and is in the business to serve the customer.
Agreed. Vivaldi does a good job of providing an open/welcoming platform for it’s users.
I think Yes
This is a huge topic, but on the smallest scale, yeah, splitting up into smaller, more “decentralized” chunks is the way to stay independent online. I’ve used and hung out on sites that have needed to hop hosts because not all ISPs play ball–eventually, they find one that does work, though it’s usually pretty expensive. (They also run forums and other web apps, in fairness. A static site is always cheaper.) I don’t really speak out politically (though I’m certainly in support of the truckers), but I have a personal site network for me and some friends, and the freedom in expression and toys to play with through our ISP has paid for itself several times over.
That’s a good approach and one which with I agree. I tend not to get political on-line either, but when I do have an opinion to share, it’s nice to know I’m not going to get blocked out of my own website because of it.
And you bring up a good point, having your own domain also allows you to use what ever platform of distribution you wish. You’re not locked in to using any particular toolset, like WordPress, or other platform. Granted, you’re going to have to use the infrastructure that the ISP provides, unless you take it a step further and host your own server, as well. I did this for several years, when I was living in the city and had a 24/7 broadband connection to the Internet. I tried a few Linux server operating systems over those years and learned a lot. I found it to be very enjoyable, hosting my own web server. Now THAT was the ultimate in having Internet independence. I miss those days, but can’t really do this from my present location/situation.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!
Excellent article, it got me thinking. Any advice for a poor old guy to start taking control of his own stuff? I don’t need much (definitely don’t want to host my own). But maybe it’s worth a few bucks to not depend on WordPress or Facebook to host my stuff either. So, got
any suggestions for affordable, dependable hosts? I probably should have done this long ago, but free is just so damn easy. 😉
Glad you liked the article! I’ve used a few hosting companies over the years and the one company I’ve been most pleased with is the one I’m using right now, iFastNet. They have provided the best services at the most affordable prices. They also have an excellent support staff, who really go out of their way to help when ever I had a question or issue. They also provide many extras for free, that other companies charge you for, like additional domains, email accounts and SSL certificates.
They have a few tiers of paid services available, but unless you have some really special circumstances for you hosting needs, I think their basic “Premium” plan is really good. They offer you a few free domains that you can register and they have some really easy on-line web site building tools that can help you get your own website or blog going with little effort. You can do a service comparison here: https://ifastnet.com/portal/sharedhosting.php
They even offer a free hosting service (although much more limited to what you’d get with a paid contract), if you’d like to get a taste of what they offer and how they operate. I used it and was very happy with it, which is why I decided to become a paying customer. Their free service goes by the name: https://byet.host/ if you want to check it out.
Here’s a little secret just between you and me: periodically, iFastNet offers special discounts to their byet.host users as incentives to switch to a paid service. So, you can get a really good deal, with a little patience and planning.
Apart from iFastNet, I would also recommend https://www.ionos.com/ They’re a little more expensive and don’t offer as many free-bees that iFastNet offer, but I found them to be reliable enough.
Just a couple suggestions. Feel free to email me if you’d like further info or any more specific questions. I’d be glad to help if I can. In any case, if you decide to host your own domain, please let me know how it all turns out! 🙂
Yes + 1 for Ionos !!
My only “complaint” about Ionos related to their fee structure. You get a discount to start, but the price then goes up after a time. So, you have to “read the fine print”. Three years with iFastNet and my original discounted sign-up price hasn’t risen.
Thanks for the tips!
You’re most welcome! Hope it all works out.
well didn t have problem with ionos host but they were not easy leaving and jumping ship. i tried to get help from their customer service team but nothing happened until i told them i would make a public media statement on youtube about my struggles. then all of a sudden a customer advisor with a fancy title told me he would help and get back to me. he did. since my domains are more or less 1 page business card i could have gone for hostgator but found out a host closer to home which i choose to support. same affordable price year after year.
Good to know. Thanks for sharing your experience with ionos. It’s great when you find a provider that values their customers.