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Definition of Digital Sharecropping
Digital Sharecropping is the act of building content on a platform that you don’t control, such as Facebook, blogs hosted on shared platforms (e.g. Blogger) or other similar sites. It’s a very risky thing to do, as it means that all of your content belongs to the platform rather than yourself.
While this may not be a problem in the entirety of a venture, the fact remains that it could be. And that’s a risk most people want to avoid. Imagine that you build your entire business on Facebook’s platform. Then Facebook shuts down. Unlikely, but there goes your whole business!
If you publish content on a platform that you don’t own, then there’s a chance your intellectual property could fall victim to Digital Sharecropping.
The term Digital Sharecropping derives from an old agricultural trick performed by landowners, where they’d lease their farmland to tenants who would be allowed to work the crops in return for a cut of the revenue. The system tended to be more beneficial for the landowners than the tenants, whose hard work returned diminishing profits.
This seems to make for fairly negative reading for bloggers who rely on websites like WordPress and Blogger to provide a platform to produce work, doesn’t it? Well, not necessarily. When you’re publishing your content to a reputable external platform, it’s likely to be trusted by your audience as well as much more accessible with better exposure via the platform.
It’s reasonable to assume that highly reputable platforms for content like WordPress and Facebook won’t disappearing overnight and propelling your hard work into the abyss in doing so. But there is a similarly potent threat that stems from large companies’ ‘terms of services.’ You might’ve dealt with fickle landlords in the real world, well digital landlords can be equally unreasonable. If their moderators see fit to remove your work, then there’s nothing stopping them legally.
Of course, if you would like peace of mind in knowing that your work will always be up and available for the world to see, then the best course of action to take is to host your own page. While becoming your own landlord online is a more expensive venture, you’ll have peace of mind that your content is safe and future-proofed.
Tip: If you want to avoid the threats of Share Cropping when it comes to your social media presence, the best course of action to take is to diversify your stakes. This means that, while you can effectively peddle your business on Facebook, it’s worth also creating active accounts on other platforms, like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. This way, you’ll have plenty of safety nets should one network end up offline or find any reason to remove your content.
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