Posted July 16, 2011 7:51 am by with 15 comments

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MicI remember one time in college I went out with a group of friends to this local bar where they had karaoke.  This place was known for not being the safest place in town, but probably the cheapest! We hung out there for a few hours before the karaoke DJ decided to take a break. I am not sure what inspired him, but for some odd reason my buddy, Dan, decided that it was his turn to start singing despite the fact that there was no music, and he had a few too many drinks. Dan, stumbled up on stage, grabbed the mic, and immediately started singing what sounded like an Irish fight song or maybe a cat in heat.

Of course, we were the only ones in the bar that got a kick out of this, everyone else just wanted him to shut up. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when I saw probably the biggest bouncer in the joint walking over to the stage. I thought, “I wonder if I should pay my tab before we get kicked out.” But, instead the bouncer reached over to the sound board and simply turned Dan’s mic off. A few folks started clapping when they couldn’t hear Dan anymore, and Dan assumed the applause was for him because well he didn’t know his mic was cut, and just kept happily singing his heart out.

Oddly enough I see this scenario play out all the time in social media, and unfortunately the public doesn’t respond as well as Dan. Social media sites routinely censor their users. Don’t believe me? It’s true. In fact, almost every popular social media site uses some form of censoring when they need to. To be honest with you, I think that’s a good thing.

Back in May it was uncovered that Zappos has been editing user reviews for spelling and grammar mistakes. What was the response? Utter outrage. Apparently, users don’t take take to it kindly when companies edit their content, even when they are trying to fix apparent errors. Which isn’t really surprising, I mean it isn’t uncommon to see social media user’s get upset over content abuse. And this is where we find the biggest lie in social media…..

The biggest lie in social media is that users are in control. 

Yep that’s right, it’s a lie. You see the truth is that all of these social sites own the content you create for them. After you hit send, submit, or OK, you relinquish control of your ideas and words to corporations that have a bottom line. It even goes further than the content you create and even into the relationships that these sites help foster.

As marketers and entrepreneurs we need to be mindful of where we grow our content assets. Is it really smart to put your whole portfolio on Flickr? Or maybe you shouldn’t be building your outreach center through tumblr. Are you backing up your relationships and making them mobile? Do you have a plan in place to recover content? These are all things that we need to continue to be mindful of in order to secure whats rightfully ours and remind ourselves that we are just singing in some one else’s bar.

[photo credit]

  • Nice post, Joe.

    It’s why I smile when I see blog posts saying “Google+ will replace blogging.” Um… no. Not unless you want to hand over control of your best stuff and allow them to repackage and repurpose if they want to… 😉

    Have a great weekend, sir!

    • Google + is totally going to replace blogging. I read that on Mashable.

      • I read it on Google+.

      • Have you guys heard of MySpaceMultiplication? ZOMG ITS GOING TO BE EPIC!!!

  • Sandor

    This isn’t news, sorry. I think I’ve read this over a dozen times in various incarnations.

    • Did you like my version? Have you written your own version yet?

      • LOL, i liked your version, nice article!

  • Nice post!

    It is interesting to think about social media sites controlling your posts instead of users. This could mess up the whole idea behind the newer marketing techniques of letting the content go where ever the users want it to go.

  • Joe Cole

    Yet another useless post. Does someone actually pay for this content to be written, if so where do i apply, id like to earn some cheap money…

  • A well run business like Zappos understands the effects of user comments, so I can understand why they would want to edit the comments for grammar and spelling errors. I can’t say I 100% agree with it, but what can a consumer really do about it? It’s not your site, so you lose control over your own words. If you want to say exactly what you want without anyone else editing it, you’ll have to start a blog rant.

  • I think info like this should be re-written time and time again because it’s very important, especially for the newbies out there just getting started. A bit of grounding now and again is always a good thing.

    I’m always telling clients to stop using these free sites to build their business and instead grab a domain, rent some space and add WP.

    It’s only then they have a marketing asset.

    Oh…And it only takes the click of a button from the free site admins and all your work is gone into the ether.

  • juris

    Most interesting is that this article has a short link which sounds like pulse Inua… if you know what I mean

  • The small businesses placing themselves in the hands of a few tech megacorporations that censor arbitrarily – sounds rather Orwellian to me.