Are link-in-bio platforms trying to be the new Geocities?

Sebastian Greger

I stumbled over this interesting article the other day:

CW: Seizure trigger: fast-flashing animation that cannot be paused

This is a fascinating development. Initially invented as minimalist solutions to circumvent the social media platforms’ limitation of external links – because they, of course, have no interest in losing users to “the open web” – the so-called “link in bio” platforms like Linktree et al. appear to be slowly evolving into complex tools to build a personal online presence with ever more features.

Are these services becoming some sort of “homepage builders”? It is interesting to see how the business model of one type of walled garden (the stringently locked-down social media platforms) pollinates the evolution of yet another walled garden platform economy.

Like Heather Burns, I too see the problem that this is just yet-another-commercial-platform hungry to own people’s online presence. She tweeted:

Nobody wants their own site.
Nobody wants to build one.
Nobody wants to own their own content.
And that’s a challenge if you held those truths to be self-evident.

But the truth also is that the convenience of these services is hard to beat. Even the tech-savvy might have other priorities than to maintain a personal website. What is truly needed are non-commercial, open, privacy-preserving and non-invasive, content-ownership-based alternatives that are as easy to maintain as these linkinbio services. Building a personal website, this article shows, must not take more than a few clicks with pre-fabricated building stones. Anything more complex than that and the masses will flock to the next best VC-funded platform; “ownership” is a hard sell against convenience, no matter the hidden cost of the surveillance business model behind.

This is not a problem of technology or even technology literacy – this is a problem of online identity as a commodity that has been normalized to be accepted as an unchallenged default on a societal level.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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