Facebook Bans Tsu Links Entirely, Choosing Control Over User Empowerment

from the banbook dept

Facebook has brought out the ban-hammer on its competitors in the past. Most notably, the social media giant banned advertisements from users for links to Google+, when that was still a thing. That said, the most recent example of Facebook banning what can be seen as a competitive product has gone even further, preventing users from linking to Tsu.co in status updates or on its messaging service.

Try mentioning the social media website Tsu.co on Facebook or Instagram -- or even in a private conversation on Facebook Messenger. It won't work. Facebook is blocking any link to Tsu.co on every platform it owns, including Messenger and Instagram. It even went back and deleted more than 1 million Facebook posts that ever mentioned Tsu.co, making pictures, videos and comments disappear in an instant. You can type the name "Tsu," but you'll be blocked if you write "Tsu.co" or post any link from the site.
I tried this for myself and found that it's in fact true. When simply attempting to update my status with nothing other than "tsu.com", Facebook returned the following popup.


Now, it is worth mentioning that Tsu appears to be somewhat sketchy. The premise of the site seems to be that it keeps a small percentage of ad revenue it generates, while the rest of the revenue gets split up between users with ads being displayed on their Tsu site, the users that originally invited those users to Tsu, and up the ladder. If this all sounds familiar to you, it should, because it's a classic pyramid model. The nature of the model means that the spread of the site will only pace more quickly, making it entirely possible that Facebook users could suddenly find their feeds inundated with Tsu links and ads.

And that's exactly what Facebook has encountered. Tsu users were creating fake accounts to boost their pages. Facebook says its users started reporting Tsu.co links as spam, which Facebook defines as "sending bulk messages, excessively posting links ... and sending friend requests to people you don't know personally." On September 25, Facebook cut off Tsu.co completely.
And, in light of what was going on, you can understand why Facebook wanted to get out in front of this. But, as is always the case with these situations, there are other options beyond outright control through the banning of all links to a competitor's site. If the Tsu links and premise result in the annoyance Facebook claims, it shouldn't be particularly difficult to allow users to inform Facebook that it doesn't want to see any links or posts involving Tsu. That solution achieves Facebook's stated desire -- not allowing users to become annoyed with spammy deluges of Tsu links -- while still allowing users who may find Tsu useful to continue on as usual.

What it doesn't allow Facebook to do is suppress the spread of another site with whom it is competing.
Carolina Franco, a 28-year-old model in Colombia, thinks Facebook's strategy is an attempt to keep its users from flocking to a competitor.

"Very few people even know about Tsu," she said. "I don't believe that Facebook and Instagram want Tsu to go viral. it would cost them a lot of money."
Whether that's true or not, it's easy to see how this perception exists. Given that another option -- empowering users instead of exerting control --would have avoided this perception, it's difficult to see why Facebook would have gone this route except that it concerns a competitor.

Filed Under: banning, censorship, competition, links
Companies: faceook, tsu


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 2:32pm

    FB is just exercising their control over their site. However, they're setting a disturbing precedent by removing the user's decision to block or allow Tsu. Now whatever is perceived as a threat or scam (or competitor) will simply be blocked within their borders.

    I suppose if you don't like it, don't use FB or anything associated with them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 2:53pm

    I'd never heard of Tsu before now, so... good job, Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:02pm

    I've never understood the attraction of Facebook. There are many other 'social' sites that are far less abusive, controlling, and invasive than Facebook.

    It should not come as a surprise that anything that threatens to cut into Facebook's immense profits will be banned outright, whether a direct competitor or whaever else. Perhaps soon even criticism of Facebook itself will be banned as the site more and more starts resembling a totalitarian police state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      First it was the cool social network that only college students were on. Then high schools joined as myspace fell out of style. Then family joined to keep up with the kids. Then it became ubiquitous because everyone else was on it.

      It's not that hard to understand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:31pm

        Re: Re:

        Less 'fell out of style' and more myspace just outright died to the point of no one wanted to even buy it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 7 Nov 2015 @ 5:54am

        Re: Re:

        And now it's out of style in high school set, and increasingly with the college crowd. It's thought of as the place where businesses and old farts hang out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:18pm

    Alow users to control their own newsfeed?

    I don't know which Facebook you've been using, but I believe allowing more user control is contradictory to the company's core values.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:26pm

    For those using Facebook, do other variations work? The article says that "tsu.com" is blocked, not just "tsu.co". Is shitsu.co also blocked?

    This won't really block tsu links for long; people will just use a uri shortener to get them through -- for example, does http://bit.ly/1iEmaWA work?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:41pm

    Theft of ad revenue

    The Balkanization of the web continues with corporations asserting their entitlement to control their user base and its proceeds. That appears to me to be the real reason for blocking Tsu and Google+, because by directing people to those sites, users are "stealing" from Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 2:32pm

      Re: Theft of ad revenue

      That appears to me to be the real reason for blocking Tsu and Google+, because by directing people to those sites, users are "stealing" from Facebook.

      "These guys are making it possible for our users to get away without getting robbed. How dare they?!?"

      You've got to wonder what sort of insanity is going on inside corporate boardrooms these days. Where in the world do they find people capable of doing this sort of thing with a straight face? Yet again, if you're getting something for free, you're the product that's being sold.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2015 @ 3:58pm

    A major component of a walled garden is, of course, the wall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    jorge, 6 Nov 2015 @ 8:44pm

    facebook is afraid because tsu really pays

    check my PAYMENT PROOF https://goo.gl/u6IesK

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      avideogameplayer, 7 Nov 2015 @ 2:34am

      Response to: jorge on Nov 6th, 2015 @ 8:44pm

      Using a couple pictures using a wordpress account...

      That's proof, I'm sold..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2015 @ 10:21am

    Facebook aka NSAbook also censors The Pirate Bay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ray, 7 Nov 2015 @ 10:23am

    TSU is a GREAT IDEA but implementation is SKETCHY

    Tsu.co needs to succeed and to do so, they need to get rid of the affiliate marketing signup structure. You can sign up for Tsu.co through my shortcode at https://www.tsu.co/rayliverified but then I get 35% of all your social media worth. Who in the world is going to do that? Let people keep 90% of their worth and get rid of the scammy 35% affiliate marketing structure. This whole money scheme just leaves a really bad taste in people's mouth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JT Smith, 7 Nov 2015 @ 1:30pm

    Another Reason Facebook is Going Down the Tubes

    Honestly this is just more proof that Facebook is anti-freedom. If you don't trust them to compete in a trustworthy manner, do you really trust them with your data?

    Join me on tsu, use the shortcode "BrainofJT" or click my name and I'll help you out in any way possible when you message me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 6:50am

    Anti-trust?

    This seems legally risky. One could easily make the claim that Facebook is abusing its monopoly position to drive out a competitor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 7:45am

    As obnoxious, and frequently outright evil, as Facebook often is, I don't actually see anything wrong with this particular decision. They saw their users being innundated with spammy links to a site running a classic scam, and shut the practice down. That's exactly the sort of thing a good moderator should do.

    The problem with the "just let the users decide" idea is that informed consent requires information, and most people don't know that tsu.co is running a pyramid scheme.

    The only thing I would change is adding a note or link to the "blocked content" popup explaining why this content is blocked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ipmetrix, 25 Nov 2015 @ 2:24am

    Patent outsourcing

    Facebook has brought out the ban-hammer on its competitors in the past. Most notably, the social media giant banned advertisements from users for links to Google+, when that was still a thing. That said, the most recent example of Facebook banning...
    Patent outsourcing
    Patent prosecution

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    99ways2die, 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:07pm

    It's pretty bad Facebook banns people over the stupidest crap but allow trolls to walk all over people and ISIS to threaten everyone but they don't want their competition to get those FB banns? Typical Liberal idiocracy. Won't allow anyone freedom of speech on their own site so to silence the masses they hide the fact there are other places to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      Typical Liberal idiocracy. Won't allow anyone freedom of speech on their own site so to silence the masses they hide the fact there are other places to go.

      What is wrong with your head? What's that to do with liberalism? Gatekeepers of all stripes and shades of attempted monopoly do this!!! This isn't a liberal vs. conservative thing. Idiot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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