For a while now, I’ve told you should make sure you own your own domain when you blog. Here’s a recent example of why that’s so important.
Microblogging is a popular alternative to traditional blogging on a website like this. Bloggers simply post short takes on things that interest them on social media platforms. They use Facebook, X (the app formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, or any of the growing number of alternatives. They seem to be satisfied with that. But I’ve said for a while that microblogging isn’t the greatest idea. Instead, you should always own your own domain when you blog.
The reason is simple. When you own your own domain, you control everything. When you blog on someone else’s space, you’re at their mercy, not yours.
To illustrate this example, I’ll give you the story of a Twitter user named Jeremy Vaught. Vaught recently posted on X about a notice he’d received from that platform about one of his other handles.
“Sixteen years ago, I created @music and have been running it ever since,” he wrote on Aug. 3. “Just now, Twitter / X just ripped it away.”
He posted a screenshot of the message Twitter sent him:
The user handle associated with the account @Music will be affiliated with X Corp. Accordingly, your user handle will be changed to a new user handle.
However, we appreciate your loyalty and want to minimize any inconvenience this may cause. At this time we will be changing this handle to @musicfan. We have listed additional handles that you can choose from below. Just respond to this message and we can assist you in making the change. All data associated with your prior user handle, including followers and following data, will be transferred to your new user handle.
Vaught wrote that he was pissed off. Well, I would be, too.
But the platform has every right to do that if they wish
Like I said: When you “microblog,” you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox. When you own your own domain, you control your destiny.
Unfortunately for Vaught, who built up more than 450,000 followers, X had every right to “take over” the @Music hashtag. It wasn’t a nice thing for them to do. And for someone like Vaught, with that many followers, it’s a major headache. Now, he must update all of his links to reflect the new handle — whatever he decides it’ll be.
His followers should see his posts because they’ll be in his feed. But if they decide to go to his handle to look for something, they’re going to find different content at the @Music handle they’re used to. I doubt if that new account will ever refer old followers to Vaught’s account. At present, I don’t see any such disclaimer.
So let’s say you’re a microblogger who depends on someone else’s sandbox to host your content. You have a following that you’ve built over a long, long time.
Suddenly, your handle, your brand’s name — is gone. The platform owner just decided to take it from you. He didn’t even give you notice: he takes it and then tells you it’s gone.
Maybe that wouldn’t bother you at all.
It should bother you enough that you wouldn’t want to blog until you had a real home. The best way to build that “home” is to own your own domain. Use social media to promote that home and to draw people to it. But if social media is the only home you have, you’re always going to be at the mercy of someone else who can rewrite the rules on a whim.