One of the biggest mistakes people make with social media is thinking that their posts are their own—as if their profile page is their personal bulletin board. That’s why so many folks post things like:
- “InstaTweetFace had the nerve to take this down! Let’s keep reposting it.”
- “How dare InstaTweetFace block my post!”
- “InstaTweetFace took this down. You know what to do.”
Here’s the truth: “your” posts are not yours at all. Social media is, like most things in life, a business. In fact, each outlet is a unique business trying to make money in its own way. Social media is many things. What it is not? Yours.
Your wall, feed, profile, whatever is designed by the website owner to get you to visit their site. Think of your profile as the freebie—10th coffee free!—or the loss leader—6 Diet Mountain Dews for $5!—that companies use to entice you to their business. They want you engaged so they can—in one way or another—make money from you. Social media, like television, earns money from advertising and product placements. So, they create lots of ways to get you to check in frequently, to invest emotionally in their site. When you do that, you see the ads, their site metrics increase, and they get to charge advertisers more.
Of course, social media has us all thinking that the freebie is the whole point of their business We make the mistake of thinking the social media page with our name at the top belongs to us. Look closer, though. Actually, there’s a name above our own: the company name. That’s because it belongs to them.
So instead of thinking of our social media as our own privately owned bulletin boards that we can decorate as we choose, we should think of each of those sites as billboards that belong to someone else. If we choose to put something up there that benefits the person who owns the billboard in some way, they’ll let it stay. But when we put something up that will cost them money, they’ll take it down. It’s that simple.
For example, if it were your own space, you could feel free to post anything you wished, and no one could take it down. If it offended someone, too bad. Your house, your rules. You could, for example, pin up a picture on your bulletin board of a cupcake with no icing and title it “The best way to eat a cupcake.” You could frame a picture from the How I Met Your Mother finale and hang it above your fireplace. You could slip your ticket stub from the movie La La Land under a “best movie ever” magnet on your fridge.
Now all of these things, in my opinion, are an abomination. A cupcake with no icing is not a cupcake, it’s a muffin, and it’s pointless because without icing. . . why? The HIMYM finale negated (at least) the entire last season and deserves only utter disdain. And La La Land? I’m still trying to get over that travesty of a film. But. It’s your bulletin board, your fireplace, your refrigerator. My opinion is (sadly) irrelevant.
It’s a whole different deal if that mess is up on a billboard though. If every single day, I had to drive passed a naked cupcake the size of an SUV. . . well, I’m going to have an opinion about that. After all, I shouldn’t be succumbed to that indecent exposure day after day! Maybe I would contact others who agree that naked cupcakes should not be out in public, get a petition going, set up a InstaTweetFace group, schedule a protest, and who knows what all.
If I go to all that trouble, the company who owns the offending billboard advertisement has to make a choice. Will they make more money by appeasing me or by leaving up the flasher cupcake? If they decide that I am the bigger loss, they’ll take it down or at least cover it with a generous layer of icing. If they decide the people who like that kind of vulgarity are the greater liability, then they’ll leave it up. It would have a whole lot less to do with their opinion about icing—God’s gift to the sweet tooth—than their profit/loss calculation.
So, if you want to put something up on InstaTweetFace that might offend someone, go ahead. You can do that. After the HIMYM fiasco, plenty of people posted that they thought it was a perfect ending. (Insert eye-rolling emoji.) Likewise, InstaTweetFace had no shortage of folks who thought LaLa Land came to a delightful resolution and did not at all feel that they had been duped for the PREVIOUS TWO HOURS into investing in an altogether different ending.
So post away! But, if it gets taken down, don’t sweat it. It’s just because money talks a whole lot louder than any of our social media posts do.