Tsu is a new social media app that offers to pay users for posting content to its site, rewarding users for helping to build the network with a share of the associated advertising revenue. The Tsu business model also incentivizes users to share links to the site in order to increase page views and attract new users.
Perhaps Facebook has determined this to be some sort of multilevel marketing scam, as Facebook is currently blocking all mention of Tsu.co or shared links across its network, going so far as to retroactively delete all mentions of the rival start-up from all its brands.
Is this a matter of Facebook crushing a rival start-up, or has Tsu.co simply run across one of Facebook’s spam algorithms? Facebook has every interest in preventing spam, though retroactively removing posts and links seems out of the norm.
Facebook has weighed in on the matter, stating that “Tsu.co” has been blocked for violating Facebook’s Platform Policy. Facebook’s spokeswoman Melanie Ensign has also been quoted by WIRED saying “We do not allow developers to incentivize content sharing on our platform because it encourages spammy sharing and creates a bad experience for people on Facebook.”
Facebook has offered to unblock Tsu if the company disables the ability to automatically share posts from Tsu to Facebook. Tsu has countered with a charge of unfair treatment in the matter, as auto-sharing posts is a feature offered to most businesses across the Facebook network, noting that all links to Tsu.co have been blocked, not simply the app. Facebook in fact allows links from many of it’s competitors, so Tsu.co’s claim seems to have some merit.
In the past, Facebook has drawn some negative attention for its control over what users see online. Publishers, social activists, and journalists are becoming increasingly dependent on social media to get their stories out, so having Facebook editing or acting as an informational gatekeeper is worrisome to many. Likewise, Facebook is one of the primary platforms for getting out the word on new tech and new apps and being banned from Facebook can doom a new start-up brand before it ever gets off the launch pad.
It is possible Tsu.co will benefit from this Facebook kerfuffle, getting more attention than it may otherwise have garnered, but that’s a one-off approach that future innovators would be unlikely to use as a blueprint. Making this kind of top down editorial control over what is supposedly a ‘social community’ something many digital insiders view as dangerous territory for the tech giant. Annoy their users once too often and Facebook could end up the next MySpace faster than some of their own ivory tower executives might think.
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