Why you should host your own [social media] content

Yes, that is me in a ridiculous beret. No, I don’t actually walk around in a beret, it’s just for “artistic shock value”.  But, just like most people, I have had a “social media “ presence for a long time. However, unlike many, I have had an “online presence” that predates stereotypical social media by a very long period of time. I have a fine art background. I’ve always enjoyed creating things, drawing, photography, writing, video production, basically anything that lends itself to creativity. I enjoy social interaction and love to share my creativity, with some caveats. This is where it all starts to unravel. When it comes to technology, people need things to be easy and 99% of the population doesn’t want to understand how the internals of things, social media included, works. It just needs to be simple. This is why, and how, entities can take advantage of the masses. They can, in trade for making it easy, use your content and images for marketing and basically anything else they want. For example, I use twitter a lot.  Twitter used to allow for better 3rd party image hosting since they don’t really support inline images very well (it’s better than it used to be but it’s still an afterthought).  So, in order for users to attach images, they have a service called twitpic (there are others, this one is arguably the most common).  Here is what they say about your image content: You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. In exchange for using their service, you retain “ownership” but they can use the content at their discretion. they can license your content. They can change your content. For most people this is probably no big deal, if they actually understand what it means.  It means that if you place an image of your cat doing something cute, they can use it for marketing.  They can make changes to it, and they can make money from it. and so can anyone that they license it to. I’m not even going to go into what Facebook can do. I have mostly given up on them. Their policy changes too much and they just seem …shady. Unfortunately, this isolates me from a huge number of people and resources. Google is only a little better, they have a monumental amount of information about so many people, myself included, that it’s scary. We trade our privacy and license to our lives for free, convenient and often well performing, easy services. So, in an attempt to take some of this back, I moved 95% of my stuff off of services like blogger, twitpic and onto a series of self hosted wordpress instances. All that is old is new again. I decided to use one of the many domains that I own (the shortest one) for image and content hosting. Something else I was really wanting to do was to host my own twitter images.  There are a few mechanisms for doing this.  I went with the wordpress plugin twitter image host.  There were a few I liked better, but none were as reliable and straightforward as twitter image host.  To fully utilize this, I purchased Tweetbot for both iOS and Mac.  Setting up the image host was really strightforward, just follow the instructions. For TweetBot for mac, it’s really easy: Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.50.49 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.51.11 PM   Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.51.36 PM Just go to preferences, choose the account and then change “image upload” to the private API endpoint you set up.  That’s it.  Under iOS it is essentially the same.           What does this give me?  Not much other than more control of my content and an interesting project to work on.  As someone that has been a creative professional in the past, I can only describe this as a control issue.  If anyone is going to make money from my creative content, it should be me, not a faceless corporation.