Is Facebook’s Censoring of Competitors Links a Dangerous Precedent?

Nov 07, 2015
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Another social network has arrived on the scene, but the new kid on the block Tsu seems to have ruffled a few feathers over at Facebook headquarters and have taken an aggressive stance by censoring all content from Tsu users that mainly consists of photographers, artists, models and other creatives.

Facebook famously keep 100 percent of all ad revenue profit from any users page, whereas Tsu promotes a much fairer concept of taking only 10%, the user receives 45% and user’s friends that invited them to Tsu share the other 45 percent. This financial incentive encourages creatives to promote and generate income for their work by posting links on Facebook.

Anyone that attempts to post a link from tsu.co onto Instagram, Facebook or even messenger in a private conversation will see all pictures; videos and comments deleted instantly as the social media behemoth is marking everything from this domain as spam.

There are two sides to this modern tale and Facebook insist they are merely protecting their users from spam posts that annoy their community by clogging up their timelines. Whereas Tsu is accusing the tech giant of killing the open web by enforcing a passive-aggressive form of censorship who decides what conversations you are allowed to have on their platform and killing any competition.

In the defence of Facebook, the Tsu ethos seems to be reminiscent of the classic pyramid scheme model and they are just protecting its business from a slew of fake accounts posting spam links that frustrate its user-base. However, on the flip-side many are pointing out that this is a disturbing precedent that will enforce a ban on anything that threatens Facebook’s profits.

There is also a certain amount of irony in trying to stop Tsu from going viral on the Facebook platform; they have created headlines for all the wrong reasons that will only heighten the awareness of a social network that the mass audience didn’t even know existed a few days ago.

We do not allow developers to incentivize content sharing on our platform because it encourages spammy sharing – Melanie Ensign, a Facebook spokesperson to CNN.

The argument that surrounds links being posted by a niche community of creatives promoting their work on Facebook to generate income being right or wrong will quickly fade. As this story grows, it will turn into a David vs. Goliath tale that will raise a much bigger question about the transparent and ruthless attempts Facebook will go to protect its business and what you can or cannot say and share on their platform.

Our relatively short tech history offers a few lessons to  on the dangers of thinking you have become untouchable due to the sheer power and size of a company. Microsoft became a regulated mess and became weighed down with sanctions thanks to an anti-trust investigation after their shady tactics against Netscape during the browser wars were revealed.

Content creators of almost anything online are increasingly heavily reliant on traffic generated by Facebook, and this dependency is a growing cause of concern for those relying on ad revenue in the industry. How many views your content will receive along with the amount of income generated is increasingly being associated to your relationship with the powers that be at Facebook.

There is also a growing trust of the social network after sinister appearing news content psychological experiments were revealed to control emotions of its users last year. Locking people into one platform with an everything under one roof ethos where you read your daily news that shapes your view of the world also makes it easier to manipulate public opinion.

However, there is a realisation that spending too much time on social networks is stealing our time and hampering our productivity. There is a digital antidote available called 99 Days of Freedom that encourages Facebook users to go cold turkey as a gentle reminder on the benefits of life without logging in, commenting, sharing and send messages every few minutes.

Whether you are wearing a tin-foil hat saying “I told you so” or feel that Facebook’s actions are entirely justified with their measures to protect their users from receiving spam links that under the surface are more than a modern pyramid scheme. There are much more interesting and bigger questions that are being asked about the content we consume, share or privately message each other and more importantly who controls it.

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