What the Numerous User Bans Can Teach Us about Social Media (Companies)


Do you remember Digg? The site formerly known for “user driven social news” has shown its true nature one day by banning some of their most valuable and active users.

They did not solely ban the spammers or those who harmed the service.

They banned some of the best social media users along with hundreds of others who contributed diligently.

When zaibatsu, top user #3 was banned for a reason that “barely” made sense I ridiculed the steps undertaken by the management.

This time I’m here to analyze. I still think they’re ridiculous and rather make sense in a sabotage kind of way where the value of a service is artificially lowered for the acquisition price to drop.

I’m not here to analyze the bizarre “Microsoft, Yahoo or Google please buy me” business model.

My focus is on the users, those real people who spent hours daily, some for years, working for free for a self proclaimed democratic platform.


Democratic vs social media

As a former media activist involved in antiwar campaigns both off and online I was wary of the belated pseudo-democratic “social media” from day one.

There had been attempts to establish truly democratic and participatory media on the Web at least 6 years earlier.

Social news like Digg was a step back as it just recycled other news sources instead of giving people a voice to freely participate and contribute.

The only way of gaining a voice on social news sites was publishing elsewhere and getting it submitted by others to them.


OK, so let’s return to people like zaibatsu or my virtual idol tamar who were both very successful users in a very positive manner and now lost all of their work there.

These two luckily only have lost their profiles and their power to push something directly. They did not lose their authority though.

Both zaibatsu and tamar managed to survive this unfortunate turn. They can’t be particularly happy but they’re still alive and kicking on social media.

Social media being many media not just one social medium is exactly the point.

Socializing throughout several platforms and being interconnected is key. Also a virtual real estate and branding are key.

Tamar is has been well known from several publications. Zaibatsu has been a popular contributor to a social media podcast at least and a niche community.

Problogger recently described the concept of the home base and the outposts.

You need a homebase and several outposts.

Like in military strategy, losing an outpost is not that bad if you have enough of them. Losing the homebase is more of an disaster.

Some of the users banned are only known to be active on one site, supernova17, one of the legendary users and #5 in the top users list has been banned too.

I have never seen him using this name elsewhere. Thus he probably lost his homebase!


Just move to the next big thing?

Some of the less known but still quite active users have lost more than just an outpost of many.

Probably some of them were mainly active on one site. Others used it as the sole source of social media reputation, traffic and just plainly community.


What do the people who lost years of work do? Just switch over to a new site and start from scratch again? I’m not sure whether this is the best way to go on.

Don’t get me wrong, new services are usually growing ever since old ones are deteriorating. Yet it might be just repeating the same mistake again by betting on a third party.

I’m mainly using

these days but I have secondary social media “real estate” at

That’s not all though. I’m known throughout social media, not just via these sites. People recognize me for my unique voice across different services.


People know me

I’m connected to “my people” on several platforms and services so the demise of one social service can’t faze me.

This is not a post solely about “not putting all eggs in one basket” though. This is a reality check:

No platform run by a conventional company aiming at profits will ever be democratic.

Corporations are top down organizations where the unorganized workers have no direct power. Consumers can at least stop consuming and boycott.

Social media users are both producers and consumers but they lack the powers of both.

There is no real social media users lobby, pressure group or union, people won’t just boycott a site due to some people being banned.

You are in no way able to protect your rights against a company like Facebook. You can’t even sue them for real as you probably agreed to something like “termination of service at any time”.


Don’t mix up the ends with the means. Social media tools are not the message. You don’t get angry at your hammer or screwdriver either for letting you down.

What’s the outcome of this article? A simple advice: Don’t become your own grave digger! Build a stable homebase instead. This might be a blog or a list of subscribers or ideally both.

Last updated: March 17th, 2017.

(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Creative Commons images by M Domondon.