Safety Considerations in Choosing Podcast Hosting Providers
As with any other forms of digital content that is meant to be shared, where that content is hosted (stored and shared) is an important consideration. There are a lot of podcast host services available. Most of them for a fee. Some are free – with a lot of limitations about length of the podcasts, size of the audio files, and permanence of the files on the host server.
In selecting podcast hosting providers, a storyteller must consider the following:
User control over podcasts
Will they be able to delete, edit, and / or archive episodes? Some free podcast hosts delete podcasts after a month. If you want to archive them, ensure you have back up, but where and how you store these could have further security issues too.
Is the podcast host able to delete users content? The storyteller needs to read the End User License Agreement of the podcast hosting provider to know if the service will be able to delete content without the user´s permission. Sometimes services will try to detect copyrighted materials or are against certain topics being promoted, like the human rights of LGBTIQ persons or environmental issues where accusations of wrong-doing may be deemed as defamatory.
Audience engagement and management:
Where do the podcast hosting provider automatically feed the podcasts? Some of them automatically feed the podcast to more mainstream platforms (iTunes, Spotify), which means the podcaster will not have that much control over who gets to listen to their podcasts. This also means the podcasts will likely reach a wider audience. The storyteller needs to consider how much they are able to control who listens to their podcasts.
Will the podcast hosting service allow the podcaster to control the RSS feed of their own podcasts? An RSS (Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication) feed is a list of updates of new content from websites. The most common use of RSS feeds is in news content. This allows a user to get new content from different news sites using one application (examples of RSS readers, https://fossbytes.com/best-rss-reader-apps/) instead of going to these websites one-by-one for updates. Podcasting generally uses RSS feeds in order for podcasters to automatically update their podcasts on different podcasting applications (i.e., Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes). Most podcasting hosting services automatically generate RSS feeds for podcasts and share them with more popular apps. This is important if the storyteller wants to limit how their podcasts are released. What this means is that the podcast hosting service will not automatically share the podcasts with mainstream platforms but rather allow the podcaster to share it themselves.
General hosting safety
- Does the podcast have site-wide HTTPS?
- Do they allow for strong passwords? 12+ characters
- What do they publish about their users? Do they publish real names of their users? Or usernames? It is safer if the host only shares user names and not actual names of their users publicly and on their sites.