No Twitter account. No Facebook fan page. You’ve been banned from YouTube. Your host suspended your website. Or your mailing list service has shut you down.
It’s an online entrepreneur’s worst nightmare!
Think it couldn’t happen?
Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe lost her Twitter accounts a few weeks ago. (Read the link to find out why Twitter suspended her and what she suspects caused it.)
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger was suspended on YouTube. (Link shares how he got his account successfully un-suspended.)
Entrepreneurial expert Joel Comm lost his Facebook account. (Link to the details and how he got it back.)
Many entrepreneurs have awoken to find their domain names threatened (Mari Smith lost a Facebook related domain), their social networking accounts hacked or banned, or their websites suspended by their website hosts.
Working as a virtual assistant I’ve seen mailing list services disable the accounts of ethical, legitimate internet marketers. I’ve seen nightmares with social networking sites. Trust me, it can happen and you don’t always hear about it.
What can you do to protect yourself?
1. Don’t put your eggs in one basket.
If you’re active multiple places online and using a variety of social networks and strategies to drive traffic back to your own blog or website, it hurts less if you lose one of those avenues.
2. Build your own email database.
Build a real mailing list, not just a social networking presence. If you’ve got a list of people who’ve opted in to your mailing list you can rebuild the social networking connections if you have to.
3. Know the terms & behave.
Keep yourself up to date about changes on social networks that may affect you. Did you know you can’t use a Facebook personal profile for a business? Or that YouTube can suspend you for using certain trigger words in your videos?
Follow the people who are talking about these issues so you know what the rules are. Much as we’d like to, we don’t get to make the rules, and if accidentally violate them or if we try to bend them… bad things can happen.
4. Keep backups of everything.
As much as possible, keep current backups. What can you backup?
- Your website hosting account (includes your site, blog, stats, etc).
- Your mailing list (download or export it at least occasionally).
- Your social networking connections (use a service like Backupify).
- And of course, your computer! Because the backups can’t help you if your machine crashes.
5. Don’t spam.
This one really goes without saying. Do your best to stay squeaky clean and then if you do get banned, you’ve got a shot at being restored. It might not work. But at least you’ll know you didn’t do anything shady and you can still sleep at night while you rebuild.
Oh, and bonus tip — be smart about security.
Use a secure password. Please don’t use your name, your kids name or your dog’s name. Use different passwords on different websites.
And enable additional security options when available. GMail has an awesome feature that anytime you try to login will send a secure code to your mobile phone so you can only login if you’ve got possession of your phone. PayPal offers a similar feature with a small key generator device. Don’t make it easy for hackers.
What else can we do to prevent being erased from the internet?
Share your suggestions, or scary stories of the internet eraser police, in the comments.