When we decided to get back into doing Living History again after all these years, it seems like almost every organization from the huge regional ones to the company-level units no longer bother with their own web sites or even email listservs anymore – they’re all on Facebook!
Why host on Facebook?
No expense and trouble with having their own domain name (dot com, dot org, dot whatever).
No need for running your own server
No big fuss over page designs and links
A place to host files, pictures, videos, stories, news, and events.
But at what cost?
Ads. Lots and lots of ads.
Loss of rights to your own content.
Loss of privacy for you and your visitors.
Getting inexplicably restricted for whatever “community standards” Facebook chooses.
Why lock yourself, your organization, and your site visitors into a single vendor who insists that all your visitors create an account on their platform to access it or contribute to it? Why ask your “customers,” members, and contributors to give up their privacy and intellectual property rights in order to participate? That’s not only unethical, it’s downright stupid. You give up so much and depend for everything on someone else’ terms of service! Remember how Amazon destroyed so many businesses who depended on their servers when Amazon decided those companies weren’t “woke” enough? It wasn’t that long ago, y’know.
Obviously hosting your own domain on your own server is the best solution as far as retaining your rights and respecting your users’ and contributors’ privacy and dignity. A small number of the reenacting groups I found do this, at least partially. But most just rely on Facebook in the same way Parler relied on Amazon. Not very smart.
There are perfectly sane and sensible alternatives to Facebook for cry’n out loud!
How about any one of the platforms offered in the Fediverse? These are all free (as in beer), but also free (as in freedom!) Rights respected, privacy preserved, open-source software-driven, maintained by volunteers who may solicit donations to defray their expenses. Anyone can host their own, the software is free if you want to run your own instance of one or more of the federated – or distributed – networks: Mastodon (microblogging, like Twitter), for example, or Friendica (very busy social network with a steep learning curve), or the simple, intuitive Diaspora network – the oldest and probably still the largest of the macro-blogging social networks (like facebook, only easier).
Centralized networks like MeWe do what Facebook and some others do, but again – you’re locked into a single vendor and hosted on a single megaserver and you don’t retain control of your own data.
In my next post, I’ll describe the one federated network that is in my opinion the easiest to learn and to use. Here’s a hint: diaspora*