Twitter has announced that they intend to silence accounts that post about Qanon. According to the New York Times, other large platforms plan to take similar action. Because I refuse to be silent about Q, I expect to have my Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel suspended. Some of the information I’m about to share is for the benefit of social media influencers who face having their accounts shut down. For their sake, I’m going to discuss details about social media that most people wouldn’t normally be interested in. If you’re not an influencer, you’re going to learn more about the inner workings of social media that you may want to know, but you’ll have the opportunity to consider the problems we deal with as we endeavor to make our voices heard.
Having been de-platformed on social media years ago, I didn’t want to let Silicon Valley tech companies have the last word on what I’m allowed to say. I decided to make my videos, podcasts, and articles available on a self-hosted website so that I might have greater control over my message. Publishing your own articles on a website is easy. Hosting and streaming your own videos is difficult and costly, which is why no one does it. The most practical way to offer videos to an audience is to upload them to a hosting platform, embed them on your website, and hope they don’t get removed by the hosting company.
The Headaches of Video Hosting
Most social media influencers host their videos on YouTube. Whether you love them or hate them, YouTube videos can be viewed on virtually any device or browser, and if you agree to color inside the lines, they can be monetized. YouTube is its own social media platform where users can send messages, leave comments, and interact with others.
Due to increasing censorship, YouTube will not be an option for some of us in the future. This isn’t news to me. I’ve been expecting it. For two years, I’ve been looking for an alternative to hosting my videos on YouTube. When I combine the threat of being de-platformed by Facebook Twitter and YouTube, my primary concerns are finding a place where I can speak freely, where I can connect with like-minded people, and where I can host videos that play properly on this website.
There are many platforms available for video hosting, but they are not created equal. Bitchute is a popular alternative to YouTube, but it can take two or three days for a video to finish processing, and they don’t offer the option to embed videos. (Technically, a Bitchute video can be embedded on a website by using an iframe, but that approach causes viewing problems for some users.)
Vimeo is another alternative, but they joined Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube when Alex Jones was de-platformed a couple of years ago. If they were willing to de-platform him, here’s no guarantee they won’t ban someone like me.
DTube, UGETube, and Brighteon allow videos to be hosted without censorship, and they offer an embed feature. I’ve tried embedding videos from these platforms here. Each time I did, a significant percentage of viewers were unable to play the video due to differences in device operating systems and web browsers. Streaming videos in a way that makes them viewable across all devices and browsers is a tricky proposition that only a few companies have done successfully.
My Wife’s Brainy Idea
Last week, my wife told me about a new social media platform called CloutHub. The company claims to be a politically neutral social media platform. I decided to create an account. What follows is a review of CloutHub’s features after one week of use. I had many questions about the platform’s current state of operation and their future plans, so I contacted CloutHub CEO Jeff Brain, who was happy to answer my questions. (The images displayed in this article were captured from the web-based version of CloutHub, which differs slightly from how they are displayed on the mobile app.)
Clouthub is built around the idea of providing hubs for various interests and activities. There are currently “News,” “Public,” and “Group” hubs. A variety of other hubs, including “Civic” and “Private” are in the works. CloutHub gives you the option of following people or adding them as a friend. When deciding to accept or reject a friend request, keep in mind that when the “Private” hub launches, friends will have access to your private hub, while followers will not.
CloutHub sports a three-column layout with a main center column for a newsfeed. Right and left sidebars are home to additional features. The page background is light grey with a charcoal header. Orange is used to highlight key elements. The design is easy on the eyes, which should benefit anyone who is on social media for long periods of time. Posts can be liked, shared, or you can leave a comment. Unlike on Twitter, posts can be edited. Users begin with a 300 character limit, and they can earn more characters by referring others to the platform. A link is provided to receive credit for referrals and a landing page is offered for influencers with large followings.
CloutHub’s many services are accessed through two rows of tabs at the top of the page. In the charcoal-colored header, select the “Public” tab and you’ll be taken to a page with a newsfeed similar to that of Twitter. The header has a search bar and tabs for the “Newsroom,” “Group” and “Channels” sections. The right sidebar shows trending topics. The left sidebar has icons for notifications, messages, friends and followers, trends, donations, and settings.
Still in the header, if you click the “Newsroom” tab, a page will open with a column that displays articles from a variety of media outlets. The left sidebar menu has tabs for news, politics, business, etc. Articles can easily be shared to your newsfeed, in a private message, to a group, or on another platform.
Videos and Groups
Clouthub has features similar to those found on Facebook, including the option to upload videos from your mobile device and the ability to create and moderate groups. To go to the Groups page, click on the “Groups” tab in the header. Any group you are a member of is displayed near the top of the page. Other groups are displayed below.
To create a new group, click the plus sign next to your avatar, give the group a name, choose its privacy setting, then add a header image and avatar if you desire. Groups can be set to open, which allows anyone to see or join them. A second option is to set a group to closed, which allows it to be seen, but admittance is moderated. A third option is to have a secret group, which makes it invisible on the platform. Admission to a secret group is by invitation only.
Clouthub’s private message system is similar to that of Facebook and Twitter. Messages from friends are displayed in the left tab, while messages from everyone else appear in the right tab. Unread messages in the inbox display a red dot.
CloutHub does not collect or sell the personal information of its users. You can create an account with any user name you choose. If you want to remain anonymous, you can create one using a burner phone number and disposable email or you can choose to have your account verified. To have your account verified, upload a photo with your ID. After your account is verified, the file is destroyed. There are no ads on the platform. CloutHub’s business model is similar to that of Gab, where most users join for free, and a handful of influencers pay fees for premium services.
Free Speech Blogging
Today, writers face increasing censorship. Although some of us enjoy the challenges of setting up and maintaining our own websites, it can be tedious, and there are costs involved. That’s why blogging platforms like Medium were created. Medium has chosen to de-platform anyone who writes about Qanon. The creators of CloutHub anticipated the need for a free speech blogging platform, which they plan to roll out soon.
One feature that deserves mention is CloutHub’s use of Artificial Intelligence. Images and videos posted on the platform are scanned for pornography. In addition, certain words have been blacklisted and can’t be included in a post. Restricted words include racial slurs and sexual terms. If you enter a blacklisted word, the AI will detect it, and you’ll have to choose another word before the post can be published. The use of AI to limit offensive and illegal content makes CloutHub a safe alternative for minors who want to use social media.
CloutHub has many useful features, but I found its content channels particularly intriguing. They offer broadcasters the ability to set up a channel on a dedicated page along with other broadcasters. The content channels are accessed through the “Channels” tab in the header.
On this page, influencers host their videos and podcasts. There is an option for broadcasters to create playlists that appear on separate tabs on their channel page. There is no limit to the number of files or the length of a broadcast that can be uploaded. There is, however, a data limit of 4 gigabytes per file. Since I’ve been looking for an alternative to YouTube, the option for hosting videos on CloutHub seemed promising. I requested to become a channel host, and I was given channel #115. To evaluate their video streaming capabilities, I uploaded a collection of videos.
I needed to know if videos hosted on Clouthub would have the same problems as videos hosted on other services, so I designed a series of tests. My hope was to publish several videos and have thousands of people watch them without receiving complaints about playability.
I uploaded the first video to CloutHub’s server and embedded it on this website. It’s had more than 2,000 views to date. The only complaints I received were from two people who had their browsers set to “privacy mode.” One person confirmed that they were able to view the video after changing their browser setting. I uploaded a second video that YouTube had removed from my channel and posted a link to it on Twitter and Parler. It’s had more than 7,000 views, and I haven’t received any complaints about playability. I uploaded two more videos and embedded them here. One has had more than 5,000 views. The other has had 3,000. I received two complaints about viewing issues. One individual did not provide information other than to say they could not view the video. A second said he was using the Firefox browser on a Linux operating system.
As consumers of videos, we’ve grown accustomed to having the freedom to use any operating system or browser we choose because YouTube videos can be played on virtually any setup. But YouTube won’t be an option for some of us in the future. I would love to have 100 percent of my audience be able to view my videos, but there is a practical limit to how accommodating a host can be. Some responsibility lies with the viewer. Influencers who are removed from YouTube have no choice but to find another video host. Videos hosted on other platforms have different viewing requirements. Viewers will either adapt to the changing requirements or be relegated to watching only those who remain on YouTube. CloutHub’s video hosting is not as ubiquitous as YouTube’s but it passed my battery of tests. The few complaints I received are acceptable, and they can be remedied by the viewers. Most problems with viewing non-YouTube videos can be eliminated by changing browser settings, using a different browser, updating your device’s operating system, or using a different device.
For influencers with a content channel, CloutHub offers live streaming. (Live streaming is not currently offered for non-channel hosts.) Setting up a live stream is simple. The backend of the platform has a page for video stream settings. Simply copy and paste the stream URL and stream key into a program like OBS or Wirecast, and begin streaming. I haven’t used OBS in more than a year, but I was able to set up a live stream in just a few minutes. Clouthub automatically displays the stream on your channel, anytime you go live. A live broadcast hosted on Clouthub can be shared on any social media platform. You can check out my 1-minute test live stream here.
Video Sharing and Monetization
CloutHub’s video hosting interface is intuitive and easy to use. Videos can be published on any website, social media platform, or directly to YouTube. Viewers can change the speed of play and the display size. Standard sizes for embedding videos are available along with the option to create custom sizes. Broadcasters can embed a video, a playlist or a channel, with or without the chat. Channel hosts are given the option to create revenue streams. Although there are no ads on the platform, there is an option to run ads on CloutHub hosted videos (including Google ads), and broadcasters can ask viewers for their email address. In the near future, CloutHub will offer the option of a paywall that the channel host will control and provide a service similar to Patreon.
If you’ve ever dealt with YouTube’s customer service, you know it can be a frustrating experience. CloutHub provides a full set of tutorials for video hosting and they offer live customer support for their content channels.
If you’re an influencer and you have questions not addressed in this article or if you want more information about CloutHub’s services, you’re welcome to email through this website or message me on social media and I’ll help you in whatever way I can.
Because CloutHub is relatively new, there are occasional glitches when trying to load certain pages. For example, it can take a while for the page to load that shows your followers. This happens primarily when using the web-based interface. The mobile app is more reliable. CloutHub’s CEO advised me that the web-based interface was only released a few weeks ago, and it’s still being fine-tuned.
Overall, I’m impressed with CloutHub. It doesn’t just offer a free speech platform. It combines the features of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all in one place. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of social media. And you don’t need to worry about having your account suspended for expressing the wrong view. The platform hasn’t drawn a lot of attention from big-name celebrities yet, but its services should attract those who oppose censorship.
From a personal perspective, Clouthub has proven to be an answer to prayer. Because I publish videos about Qanon, my YouTube channel is almost guaranteed to be suspended. I needed a video hosting solution. I’ve tested the feasibility of using CloutHub as my primary video host, and they meet all my requirements. The time to implement a plan to avoid a disaster is before the disaster hits. I uploaded my entire YouTube channel to CloutHub, and I’m switching out all my videos on this website for ones hosted there. I can now sleep a little better, comforted by the knowledge that if YouTube suspends my account, it won’t affect my ability to host videos here.
Large social media platforms are the information battlefields upon which the war over public opinion is waged. I have no plans to voluntarily abandon Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. I’ve had multiple Facebook pages suspended, and if my current one is removed, I can create another. If my Twitter account is suspended, I can make a new one and reconnect with my tribe, at least temporarily. YouTube presents a different set of problems. It takes a lot of time and effort to upload hundreds of videos and create thumbnails, descriptions, titles, and links. At some point, recreating a suspended account on a hostile platform may not be a wise allocation of time and resources. I still plan to make my videos available on YouTube as long as they’ll have me, but I may not create a new account if my current one is suspended.
It’s About the Relationship
YouTube recruits influencers with the promise of a mutually beneficial relationship. They agree to host and promote your videos. In return, you’re given access to a powerful platform where your message can be heard, and if you’re successful, they offer a financial reward. The offer of a mutually beneficial relationship seems to be true, as long as you refrain from expressing certain views. When you express the wrong view, punitive action is taken to correct your behavior. That kind of relationship isn’t mutually beneficial. When you’re not free to do as you please—when someone threatens you to get you to behave a certain way, the relationship is based on control and abuse. I wouldn’t marry an abusive, controlling woman. Why would I make myself dependent on an abusive social media company?
CloutHub has offered me the mutually beneficial relationship that YouTube wouldn’t. That altered my relationship with YouTube, which I can now treat like any other video hosting service. It’s nice to have access to their platform, but I no longer need them. If they suspend my account, it’s not the end of the world. CloutHub offers influencers the opportunity to divorce themselves from abusive companies that try to censor and control them.
To learn more or to sign up for an account, click on the link or the image below: CloutHub