Owning your digital presence

Jon Brookes



Many people see no reason why they shouldn’t run their businesses, or even their personal lives, on social media platforms that are, after all, “free to use.”

This may be true. If you don’t mind losing monetization or even getting banned, then social media might still work for you. However, if your business relies heavily on a social media platform for marketing and sales, losing your account could be very damaging.

You don’t need to lose access to your account; the provider can simply change ‘the algorithm,’ as has been the case recently, and your visibility is impaired. It’s difficult when this happens if you only have that single point of presence.

Remember, it’s not truly your account. Read the fine print when signing up for social platforms. You often give up ownership rights to anything you post as soon as you hit “share.” Don’t believe me? Just look at news stories about the difficulty people have getting harmful content removed. Sometimes, removal attempts fall on deaf ears, and even if successful, the content might reappear later.

Here’s the point: The platform, not you, effectively owns your account. If things go wrong, good luck navigating their appeals process.

The Power of Running Your Own Platform

So, what’s the answer to having more control over your online presence? It’s running your own platform.

Why Isn’t Everyone Doing It?

There’s a catch. Even in 2024, setting up your own platform isn’t as easy as creating a social media account.

The Cost of Convenience

While Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms offer ease of use, they come with a monthly cost that can be prohibitive for small businesses and non-profits.

Beyond Basic Websites

Yes, you can run a WordPress site, but these rely on server-side technology managed by someone else. If not handled properly, your site can be hacked. This isn’t just a risk for small businesses; even government and justice-related websites are vulnerable.

Static Sites: A Secure Alternative

Many company and personal websites can be statically generated, meaning the content is pre-built and doesn’t require constant processing. This improves security and reduces costs. Static site generators are appealing to developers but can be challenging for non-technical users.

The CMS Trap

Content Management Systems (CMS) offer user-friendly editing but come with a fixed monthly cost, even if you rarely update your site. For content providers with multiple sites, this cost can multiply quickly.

Data Ownership Concerns

With some CMS providers, your data might be inaccessible for backup or transfer to another service. This can lead to data loss if information is accidentally deleted. Frustrated by limitations in existing solutions, I decided to create my own.

Open-Source for Everyone

There are robust, open-source frameworks available that offer the core functionalities needed for creating secure and customizable platforms. Next week, we’ll be demonstrating this solution to a non-profit organization.

The Future: Open Source and SaaS

If successful, we’ll continue developing this open-source project and create a user-friendly SaaS version. You can find the open-source code on GitHub under the GNU GPLv3 license, which allows for free commercial use. If running it yourself is too technical, a future SaaS version with usage-based credits is planned.