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Putting A Stop To Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” While cyberbullying can occur against anyone, it typically is focused against protected classes and youth.

The United States government operates a public service website, stopbullying.gov, detailing laws by each State and programs designed to assist in the prevention of cyberbullying. I spent some time reading up the laws in Oregon, in which Canvas Host is legally registered and operates.

Oregon’s Regulatory Statute (ORS 339.351) widens the scope of cyberbullying, emphasizing protected classes (groups of people defined or perceived to be set apart by race, religion, and sexual orientation, to name a few) as well as youth and students, and spells out disciplinary and legal actions that may be taken wherever cyberbullying occurs against these groups.

The reason I’m talking about cyberbullying, is that as a parent, community member, business owner, and private citizen, I’ve had it. I’m fed up with the plethora of abusive behavior I see on social media, as attack articles pushed through “fake news”, or blatantly oppressive actions people think they can get away with in emails. Cyberbullying is very real, and it has the ability to bring harm to a victim. In some cases, it can be lethal.

Cyberbullying: 30 Years In The Making

In 1998, when I first started dreaming about an online business, “cyberbullying” didn’t exist as a word, but abuse was already plentiful on BBS (bulletin board systems) and in email. I was targeted a few times by people that just wanted to get a rise out of me. It seemed these people didn’t understand that their words could inflict harm.

Around the Millennium, a group of individuals got together and wrote a book foretelling the advent of social media. It was called, The Cluetrain Manifesto, and it predicted an “Internet 2.0”, in which businesses would find themselves no longer the masters of the Internet, presented with new apps and communication platforms that would give rise to an online population of consumers and private citizens that would want to connect. A poorly-worded exchange would have the potential to destroy a brand’s reputation, just as an act of good will could launch admiration and support for a company to new heights.

Was business, as a whole, prepared for the Internet to become a two-way conversation? Seeing how vicious complete strangers could be towards one another, I had my doubts. Even so, I realized that to remain relevant, a business must develop a personal voice with which customers could learn to love. When I founded this business in 2002, I wanted to create a service to help customers and businesses connect and prosperous online.

I didn’t realize what a future with social media would mean. Since that time, I have seen an additional evolution of social commentary: No longer would it be a two-way conversation for businesses and people to exchange ideas; Rather, it would become like any other middle school gossip ring: Cutting one party entirely out of the conversation, with private exchanges behind its back and bringing rise to entirely new, uncontrollable, and viral attacks. In the twenty-teens, this is what cyberbullying has become.

Cyberbullying Spreads Like A Virus

An ill-stated comment by a brand, an unfortunate photo taken of a friend without their knowledge, a compromising “revenge” video posted publicly, all of it carrying the potential to spread faster than a biological pandemic with global reach… You know what I’m talking about: The kind of stuff that damages reputations, spans further and deeper and worse than schoolyard note-passing and that can even lead someone to commit suicide.

It’s led me many times to unfollow “friends”, “unfriend” contacts, outright block some user accounts, and trim down the digital noise — something that in 2019 is becoming known as “digital minimalism” (I will save that for a future post). It works for me — but what about you, your friends and loved ones? What can you do to counter cyberbullying on your own terms and turf?

Fighting Back Against Cyberbullying

One of the best ways to prevent cyberbullying, is awareness: To learn how to identify it, who within your circles of influence are participating in it, and who is being victimized by it. Education and behavioral shifts are possible, but may require involvement of educational administration, or potentially law enforcement if necessary. Thankfully, in the few situations I have been involved in, simply talking about what happened, and how it made the other party feel, has provided enough feedback so as to prevent it from happening again. I recognize this is not always the case, but I feel that a de-escalatory approach, whenever possible, is the best first approach.

On the business side, we take cyberbullying extremely seriously. We have revised our Acceptable Use Policy to directly forbid our network from being used for the purpose of cyberbullying, with a zero-tolerance response that will see a customer’s account terminated without exception, and possible referral to law enforcement if it is determined the action was done willfully.

As a B Corporation, we actively take a stand on issues that impact us, our customers, and our community. Cyberbullying is something that we can do something about. In 2019, I am proud to announce that we have evolved our mission statement to reflect this:

At Canvas Host, our mission is to create a safe, just, and socially equitable Internet, one website at a time.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Founder and Co-Owner

Sources / To learn more:

Canvas Host’s Acceptable Use Policy

Oregon Regulatory Statute 339.351 (Cyberbullying Law)

U.S. Government Stop Bullying Campaign

IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Center

Cluetrain Manifesto


WordPress 5.0, One Week Later

If your website runs WordPress, the latest version is here. We emailed our customers last week about the new interface, the Gutenberg editor, and included troubleshooting advice.

Gutenberg isn’t for everyone. It may not be compatible with your theme or page builder plugins. It could simply break your WordPress installation.

With the benefit of one week’s insight, we’re pleased to provide four simple steps to upgrade to WordPress 5.0 safely, and with minimal risk for your WordPress website.

How do I Safely update to WordPress 5.0?

1. Make a complete backup of your WordPress installation. This is done using a plugin like BackupBuddy, or by importing your WordPress installation into Installatron within Cpanel, then choosing Backup. Or, if you’re subscribed to our Managed WordPress service line, we’ve already taken care of it for you.

Learn more about our WordPress Management here:

https://www.canvashost.com/wordpress/wordpress-support.php

2. Update your core WordPress to 5.0. This is done by logging into WordPress administration area, and then navigating to Dashboard -> Updates on the left-hand navigation bar.

3. Once WordPress is updated, you will be prompted to update your theme and plugins as well. This is because theme and plugin developers have created versions compatible with the older WordPress versions (4.9.x), which function differently than the versions needed to use WordPress 5+.

4. Finally, let’s be honest… the Gutenberg editor is different. It is used to build pages in blocks of content, which is more akin to platforms like Concrete5, but a complete diversion from the interface to which WordPress are accustomed. If you’d prefer to avoid Gutenberg, there is a plugin you can install, aptly named Classic Editor. It returns your WordPress 5.0 website to look like the older interface.

To install Classic Editor, navigate to Plugins -> Add New -> In the search bar, type “classic editor”. You will see the first one that comes up is named Classic Editor, and as of the time of this blog post, has been installed by more than 1 million WordPress websites! If you’d prefer to visit the plugin page directly in a separate browser, the URL is:

Classic Editor

With these four steps, you can mitigate the major issues of upgrading to the latest WordPress edition.

What if I still need help?

If you have questions or need help, Canvas Host is a full-service web agency. At $60/hour, our WordPress consulting services are far less than other agencies’ rates. And, as a B Corporation, we don’t nickel and dime you, and want you to get the most out of your website. We’re here to help.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Founder and Co-Owner


Giving Thanks, Opting Outside, and Paying it Forward

By David Anderson, Founder/Co-Owner

We’re at the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, and the many holidays to follow. On this day, I’m reminded of the things I’m thankful for, and the reasons I got into this line of work. It began with the desire to help others navigate technology. Over the years, it grew into what Canvas Host is today.

The opportunity to work with each and everyone in our family of customers is incredibly rewarding. I want to thank you for being a part of this journey, and for supporting Canvas Host through the years.

During this holiday season, I’m also reminded of the commercial side of business, especially in American culture, and the negative impacts it carries. Our company is unique in that we rarely advertise our services. Much of our growth and sustained success through the years has been due to customer referrals and loyalty. Again, thank you.

I don’t care for the craze that turns otherwise well-intentioned members of society into shopping zombies, frenetically careening their carts down the aisles and treating other humans like bowling pins. Thankfully, I’m reminded of something else: The options to avoid those crowds, and make a difference.

First off, I’d like to encourage you to avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and instead Opt Outside. Several years back, REI (an outdoor retailer) began this campaign and partnered with various park services. The idea is to visit a local, State, or National park, to get outdoors, breathe fresh air, and do anything but spend lots of money. The National Park Service has some great suggestions for activities you can do this weekend:

https://www.nps.gov/articles/optoutside.htm

If you are going to purchase products or services, I’d like to suggest you consider supporting local businesses on Small Business Saturday. For every dollar you spend on a local business, $.68 stays within the community. Compare that to shopping online or at a big box retailer, where your purchase supports a large corporation or distant business. You can learn more about Small Business Saturday at the SBA:

https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-initiatives/small-business-saturday

Finally, next week is Giving Tuesday. It’s a time to support and celebrate a cause, nonprofit, or other organization dear to you, and with a financial contribution, help them make a difference. This global movement rarely gets much publicity, but especially in the United States, I think it’s fitting to wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend with a day to help you pay it forward. You can learn more about Giving Tuesday, at:

https://www.givingtuesday.org/

On behalf of everyone at Canvas Host and Canvas Dreams, I wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend, and hope you find reasons to give thanks for all the good in your life.

 


Your Business is a Canvas of Dreams

When I first started Canvas Dreams, I wanted to pair my artistic background with technology, and build compelling, creative website services for my customers. We came to realize that the services we provide to our customers, are not as important as how we deliver them. We have built a reputation for being a friendly, personable, and approachable web host. We care about our customers, and we try to help, beyond the point where most competitors would have given up.

We’re not perfect, but looking back on an almost 17-year track record, I’m proud of our accomplishments, and the thousands of customers we have helped. In 2002, I had no idea where this would all lead. I just knew I wanted to try.

What was your dream when you started your business? What did you set out to achieve? Did you write up a business plan or mission statement? Did you draw up an org chart to see how your staff fit together to form a complete picture? Do you actively work on your business, building it to the next level or iteration? Do you retrain yourself and your team, to keep the brains fresh and ideas flowing?

A business is a blank canvas that is never finished. You paint it with your dreams, and you have to keep dreaming. If you stop innovating, your business can hit upon stagnation, a loss of direction, and a forgotten mission. Without focus, a business may amble on for a while, but it runs the risk of going off the road. A business needs a leader with clear vision, and a team united around that vision.

To last, a business must evolve, and its leadership with it. It’s why those years ago, we rebranded to Canvas Host, to highlight our emphasis on web hosting as our primary offering. I am blessed with a personality that is adaptable to change, but I recognize not everyone can do it as easily, or at all. Nevertheless, the evolution of a business will determine its outcome.

Over the years, change brings challenge. We have seen many customers’ businesses grow and decline, start and end, succeed and fail. At the start of this year, we decided to do something about it, and now offer a complete range of business consulting services: Operations, HR, finance, sales, marketing, and IT, to name a few.

We’ve already helped a number of companies get back on track: Their books cleaned up, the team refocused, the leadership counseled, new strategies introduced, and gently nudged out of the nest and back into the world. There is a limit to what we can provide, and we can’t force a business to spread its wings, but we can lead by example, and show that real change doesn’t have to be feared.

We’re pleased to announce a reboot of Canvas Dreams, the parent brand of Canvas Host, to showcase our business consulting capabilities, tell the stories of the brands we’ve helped, and demonstrate how our services could help improve your own business.


Local Alignment as an Oregon Benefit Company

One of our operating principles is “supporting local”. To this extent, we have realigned our Oregon Benefit Company certification with a local Oregon-based company. This was a necessary and overdue decision, as the prior certifier (Green America) has lost credibility. With this new certification, we are better positioned to help and encourage other local businesses to do the same.

Two weeks ago, we completed and passed our final audit with Benefit Corporations for Good. The company, owned and operated by Tom Hering and Mary Anne Harmer, stands for the same principles of operation that we have built into the DNA of Canvas Host. Both Tom and Mary Anne have been at the forefront of the Oregon Benefit Company movement for many years, proving this through their recently published book, Putting Soul into Business.

At Canvas Host, we believe that supporting local is not only what it needed but what is important in our growth as a company and our transparency to our customers. If you would like to learn more about this process, requirements, or definitions, please contact us at csr@canvashost.com. We are always here to assist.