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How to escape the surveillance state: Make your content impossible to cancel
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How to escape the surveillance state: Make your content impossible to cancel

Editor's note: We're facing an unprecedented moment in American history. Our government and multinational tech monopolies are making it clear that we, the people, are the target of the monstrous surveillance state they've constructed. The deep state is attempting to jail people who share memes, Blaze Media journalists, and even the leading presidential candidate. It's time we take back control over our privacy and digital communications, and this guide will provide you with the tools to do that. This is an excerpt from a larger guide.

Own your platform

Social media and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are important tools for business and advertising. They enable small businesses, artists, and writers to take advantage of network effects and get access to people they would otherwise be unable to reach. You don’t have to stop using them. Just be sure you understand the privacy risks, and most importantly, do not be beholden to a company that can cancel you at any moment. Don’t trust Big Tech to have your best interests in mind. Make sure you control your content and own your own platform.

Control your content

First, for any important video, writing, or sales content you have, make sure it is not only housed on Meta, YouTube, or Vimeo. Have your copies of it on your own site and on offline hard drives. You don’t need to store every short, timely video you make, but for anything that is central to your business, make sure you have it. If you get de-platformed for any reason, you can start up right away. Think of it this way. You want to have a hard drive backup of your most important content. If your computer gets wet and breaks down, you need a backup drive so you can get a new computer and back to work immediately. Same with your online, cloud-based systems. Have a backup.

Build your own site

If you have a small business of any kind and you don’t already have your own website, you should build it right away and use that as the main hub of your activity, where you can host all your most important content so you control it. This doesn’t mean you have to stop using social media like Facebook or Instagram to advertise or connect with customers, but you should not be dependent upon it. Often, I will look for a service and find that it uses Facebook as its website. This is not a good idea for many reasons. It can be difficult for people who don’t use Facebook to access it. And if Facebook has a problem or suspends service as it did in the Australia blackout, your business is totally dependent upon it. Get your own site and encourage customers and readers to sign up at your website. As numerous people have noted, a Facebook or Twitter follower is nothing compared to an email address.

You can build a site reasonably quickly on Ghost, Squarespace, or WordPress, and there are services that can help.


I have used both WordPress and Squarespace and am moving one of my sites to Ghost. I find Squarespace much easier and more intuitive than WordPress, but WordPress has adopted some new elements that make it easier to use, and it is a solid platform. If you like WordPress, then use it. Ghost is also reasonably easy to manage, though at least for me not as intuitive as Squarespace. But Ghost has built-in services to help collect subscribers and more easily monetize content. For example, instead of adding a Patreon account to a Squarespace site, Ghost has its own version of Patreon. Balaji Srinivasan has some helpful guides to setting up Ghost.


I use Squarespace; I like it and find it easy to use, but Squarespace can also arbitrarily deny service to users.

What about Substack?

You may have noticed a lot of people moving to Substack, including some bigger names like Glenn Greenwald, Rod Dreher, and Bari Weiss. My friend Luke Burgis is there.

The idea with Substack is that instead of communicating through other platforms, with Substack people can subscribe directly to your newsletter and pay you money, and you have their address and direct communication. Substack states it's not going to de-platform people. Many people have controversial views, and Substack seems okay with it, but I would watch people like Rod Dreher, who holds orthodox Christian views on marriage and sexuality. This will probably be the real test.

So Substack seems to be a good option now. It is better to have your own site and domain rather than a address. Ghost has the same subscriber function, and you can add a subscriber function to Squarespace and WordPress with plugins. But people seem to like it, so you may want to look into it. Whatever you do, there is always risk using any service, so make sure you have as much control as possible

The big takeaway: Own your content with the longer-term goal of moving things to decentralized applications so you can be operationally remote and harder to cancel.

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