Is X Limiting Free Speech? Time to Get Your Own Community

X Announces New Terms and Conditions From September 2023

The social network formerly known as Twitter just announced new terms and conditions. They aren't strictly pro-indiepreneur. In fact, any entrepreneurially minded soul needs to read them closely before committing fully to a future on the bird 'everything' app.

At the time of writing, the link to these terms is not available, but I took some screenshots earlier, so here are a few edited highlights. What follows is my reading of them. As soon as they're publicly available, I'll link to them from here. Although I have a tiny bit of experience with contract law, I'm not qualified at a high level. So read what follows as my first thoughts on the new terms and conditions that X is introducing in September. I welcome your thoughts (and the link, if you have it, because it isn't the main TOS link) in the comments. 

  • "We have broad enforcement rights:
    X reserves the right to take enforcement actions against you." [Examples:] 
    • Removing content
    • Limiting visibility [shadow banning]
    • Discontinuing your access to X
    • Taking legal action
    • Suspending or terminating your account for... prolonged inactivity, risk of legal exposure, or commercial inviability.

I won't go through all the Ts & Cs, but the end point jumped out at me. You can be kicked off a public social network for 'commercial inviability'.

That means, presumably, that if you're just on X to make friends, and you don't sign up for their paid service, or click on ads, you're out. 

Twitter was a place where you could hang out with friends. X only welcomes you if you are 'commercially viable.'

Can You Still Build a Business on X?

Well, you could make the case that this will make X more geared to entrepreneurs. They want you to be commercially viable, so they'll do everything possible to help you be so, right? Well... Here's another snippet from their terms:

  • You cannot have discussions on X that aim to "drive traffic or attention from a conversation on X to accounts, websites, products, services, or initiatives.'

Wait. What? You can't talk about anything that takes a person's 'attention' away from X? So, you can't talk about your business. You definitely can't link to it. And there's nothing here to say that limitation goes away if you pay for the service. So, you could be paying for a business account on X and not be able to shift 'attention' away from X itself onto your business?

So, everyone has to stay on X talking about X? Will Elon not be allowed to mention Tesla, or do the rules not apply to him?

Let's dig a little deeper. See what other treats are in store. Because maybe I'm overreacting here. 

  • Coordinated activity that attempts to influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts or automation is banned. 

How far does that go? Presumably, engagement groups are now done for. People who RT/share posts with their followers for money just lost their businesses. It specifically states that selling or purchasing followers or engagements of any kinds is banned. But you also can't 'retweet'/post yourself.

  • You cannot have more that one account with similar content, and you also cannot have accounts that 'interact with... substantially similar... X accounts'. So, does that mean that Money Twitter/ Money X is banned? If too many people mention having coffee in the morning, or cold showers, or share other 'in' jokes, or share each other's platitudes, could they be shadow banned or even cancelled by the platform?
  • There's a weird point that appears to say that if you post something with a hashtag or about a trending topic on one account, and do the same on another account, you're toast. So, if you win an award for a cake your business baked, you can't retweet that on your own account, to show your friends and family, especially if the hashtag cupcakes is trending and you use that hashtag. "Do not cross-post similar... content to the same trending topics or hashtags."
  • If you post something and then notice it is worded awkwardly, so you delete it and repost it with better wording, that could be grounds to close your account. 
  • If you add too many people to Lists, or do it too fast, X doesn't want you.
  • It appears to state that affiliate links are 'misleading or deceptive links' and can't be used. Hopefully, they just worded it awkwardly, otherwise no affiliate marketing on X either. Looking at the ban on conversations that distract people from talking about X, I'm pretty sure affiliate marketing is no longer allowed. 
  • X "may not monitor or control" content that is "offensive, harmful, inaccurate, or otherwise inappropriate... or deceptive." May not even monitor it? I can't bring myself to itemise some of the content that could go under the not even switched on radar. 

So, we've already established your duty to keep everyone on X while paying for membership, and the importance that you don't discuss your business, in case that distracts anyone from the network. But you can't just be friends with people there either, because that makes you not 'commercially viable' unless you, presumably, click a bunch of ads. But what about YOUR content?

  • X has the right to make content submitted 'to or through' X (so, presumably, even if someone else posts your stuff they're claiming this right) available to "other companies, organisations or individuals... with no compensations paid to you.' There's also something about 'improving the Services' using your content, which makes me wonder if they mean using your content to train AI. 

When the link to the terms and conditions is available, I'll post it here and you can see what you think of it. 


Do You Own Your Business, Or Does Elon?

Many people, particularly since 2020, have set up businesses on Twitter/X without email lists or their own blogs or websites. 

Is that still a viable option?

I would say that it is not. It's, for want of a better word, daft. Your account could be closed at any time. Then what? You've lost everyone overnight. All your prospects are gone. You don't have any record of them, so how will you follow up with them?

Social Networks Close

I've had this experience with social networks before. Remember Google Plus? I had over 30,000 followers there. Then it closed. Fortunately, I'd moved a bunch of them onto an email list, but not enough to make it a small event. 

Another social network called Webtalk had some great features, and I was an affiliate for it. I had thousands of prospects in there. One day I couldn't login. Closed until further notice. This time, I'd put together training using an opt-in page that brought people onto my email list inside Kajabi. Even with the social network gone, I can still communicate with my core market from there. 


Email Lists Are An Asset

If you build an email list, it doesn't matter what happens with social media, because you always have people to speak to who've raised their hand to be marketed to by you. 

Email is often overlooked, because it's so old school, but every app you own will ask for your email eventually. Even if they let you use your phone number to login, they'll still ask for your email as a backup. Social networks are big marketing funnels, and the way you enter them is with your email. 

Well, you can do that too!


Build Your Own Social Network

I built an email list by creating free offers inside Kajabi. People put in their email and BAM! Free thing. 

Then they're on my email list, and ready to read what I send. 

But you can now build Communities inside Kajabi. These are like bespoke social networks, but you're the one setting the rules, not Elon or Zuck. 

And the rules are clearly stated on the way in, so people know what's up. If you run a vegan community and don't want people mentioning meat, or a carnivore community and you don't want people mentioning broccoli, put it in your greeting message. 

My community is called Clockerfly Nation, and rather than being full of trolls and spammers, it's full of people being authentic about their challenges, and taking accountability for past errors, while committing to do better in future. 

And my Community isn't for everyone. For one thing, the majority of active members are guys in their 20s and 30s, looking to step into their greatness, become chivalrous gentlemen, sort out bad habits, and use their superpowers for good, not evil. But you don't want your Community to be for everyone. You're a special kind of cupcake, and you have a specific message to share with specific people. 

For instance, you might run classes for people over 60 in how to play Appalachian Dulcimer. Your average 20-something manosphere dude, with a handful of bees wouldn't sign up for that class, and while you'd be polite to him if he did, you'd probably rather he didn't. 

And this is where the batter meets the griddle. Your particular online marketplace isn't the size of X or Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. It's likely that a handful of people (a generous handful, but a handful none-the-less) will truly 'get' you. They'll hear your message and resonate with it, because you're not 'weird' to them. You're the one person who is singing the song that's already their own earworm. 


1,000 True Fans

In 2008, Kevin Kelly coined the expression '1,000 true fans' in an essay. The basic gist of the theory is that you don't need the millions of followers that social media tells you that you need to make a living online. 1,000 true fans will do it. Arguably, even 100 true fans will. I've written a blog post on the idea of Minimum Viable Audience that explains it more.

The key thing to remember is that you are not for everyone. And that's OK! You're not vanilla. You're a special kind of cupcake that a special kind of person will do anything to work with, and you deserve to work with those people. 

Social media isn't always the best place to showcase who you are. Better to move people onto an email list that you write, and a blog that you designed, and a podcast where you share your unique voice, and into a Community that is the home of your 1,000 (or 100) true fans. The people who get what your inside jokes are. Those are your peeps. 

Ready to serve them? I've got a 30 day free trial for you of Kajabi (twice the length you get if you go to their site) but I also have an awesome two week extravaganza of gifts to give you, that will put the marketing trends of today into a bit of historical context. Because I was a Dot Com Pioneer, back when everyone was called 'Dude', and everything was 'awesome'. So why not grab that, and pick up your free Kajabi trial, then apply what the people who understood this back at the start of social media taught everyone? 


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