Could They Erase YOU From the Internet Tomorrow?

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.

Ahhhhhhhh!!

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.

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20 Comments

  1. A very important post. Lots of people don’t think about this, and even fewer take backups. I doubt they’d have any luck erasing me, I’m practically everywhere :)
    Linda Ursin recently posted… MRI DayMy Profile

    1. Awesome. Being everywhere is a great strategy to prevent disappearing. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Your Invitation to the SmallBizChristmas PartyMy Profile

  2. Sometimes back one of my friend lost his Gmail but he got it back in 48 hours. So we never know when we are thrown. nice post madam.

    1. I’ve heard of that happening with GMail accounts. Glad your friend was able to get his account access back.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Could They Erase YOU From the Internet Tomorrow?My Profile

  3. Woah -ho. Does this ever ring true to me. It was a week ago when I lost my account at the social bookmarking site where I was most active. And not just me, but four others. (Read about it in Clickfire’s blog http://www.clickfire.com/blog-engage/ and Miranda’s blog http://plantingmoneyseeds.com/this-is-why-i-have-a-hard-time-with-social-media/ ).

    Fortunately for me, and I think for the other four who lost their accounts, they were pretty much following the tips above (except that #4 doesn’t really apply here).
    David Leonhardt recently posted… Guest post: Who’s backing you up? Easy IT contingencies to avoid the anguish of lost workMy Profile

    1. Thanks for sharing that, David. I appreciate so much when people speak out about these things (like Ana, Darren and Joel did) so the rest of us can learn from the experiences. So many sites aren’t clear about what they’ll ban us for that it’s often out of the blue.

      I’ve got an account at BlogEngage but hadn’t been very active there yet. I guess I should see if I still have an account. I wonder what their thinking was on banning so many active users? It doesn’t sound like they’ve explained it too well.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Your Invitation to the SmallBizChristmas PartyMy Profile

  4. David Leonhardt provided a completely different reason. One we should all take to heart- because we often fail to recognize that these sites are ostensibly developed to make a profit or assuage the ego of the progenitors.
    http://www.seo-writer.com/blog/2011/12/08/2011-social-media-fail-of-the-year/
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted… America’s Got Talent? Yes, and it does beat practice…My Profile

    1. So true! We’re really at the mercy of the owners and their goals which are always different from our own.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Could They Erase YOU From the Internet Tomorrow?My Profile

  5. Great advice Michelle. Thanks for sharing this one.

    Your friend across the pond

    David
    David Verney recently posted… Facebook App Review: Join My Mailing List by Constant ContactMy Profile

  6. Hi Michelle,

    It’s important to keep backups of everything as you never know when you suddenly need them. Though I’m not very active on social media but still concentrating on it and I’ll certainly keep your advice in mind.
    Aanchal recently posted… Website Design in IndiaMy Profile

    1. If only we could predict when they’d be needed! That’d make it easier. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Go Infograph Yourself! (Weekend Fun)My Profile

  7. Wow, I would think that the nice thing to do would be to warn someone who did not respect the rules before blocking their account? Maybe delete their ‘offending’ post or update but not completely banning them?

    But yes, having your own website, hosting where you have control, and backing up regularly, that’s excellent advice. And you shared these wonderful tips in your webinar this week that I just finished listening. See how I did my homework? :)

    Thanks for another great post, Michelle!
    Delia recently posted… What are you really blogging about?My Profile

    1. Yes, I agree. It’d sure be great if they’d give us a warning first, or at the very least let us know what we did wrong.

      Hey you were on the webinar! Thanks so much for listening in, Delia. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Go Infograph Yourself! (Weekend Fun)My Profile

  8. Great advice for all…. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information…

    1. You’re welcome, Sabrina.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Your Invitation to the SmallBizChristmas PartyMy Profile

  9. Thank goodness for backups. I love Mozy backup for my computer. They even helped track it when my laptop was stolen from a break in at our home.

    Thanks for the info on the Paypal feature. I’m going to check that out for sure!
    Rhonda Neely recently posted… Pave the Way to a Serene Christmas with Shopping SolutionsMy Profile

    1. Mozy has saved me a couple of times, Rhonda. I’m a fan, too. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Go Infograph Yourself! (Weekend Fun)My Profile

  10. Such a valuable post. Yes, I do back up and I don’t put my eggs in one basket. We are so vulnerable to the whims of the various Social Media Platforms. My friend and client at ungenitabeautyblog.com was banned from Facebook and she didn’t know why. Many of her friends contacted Facebook on her behalf and her account was re-activated. She was never told why she was banned. She did get something positive from this … she focused on twitter and LinkedIn and she attracted new clients.

    My suggestion is to create a business that’s viable online as well as offline.
    Adalia recently posted… Harness the Power of Your Subconscious Mind to Achieve Your GoalsMy Profile

    1. Facebook is known for that… sadly mean people banned never find out what they did wrong, even when they do get their accounts back.

      Sounds like she took a smart approach. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Go Infograph Yourself! (Weekend Fun)My Profile

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