Facebook’s Ban Of Tsu Reduced To A 'Miscommunication'?

'Tsuvians,' as they euphemistically like to call themselves — are a hearty lot. When they feel they have been wronged, this small band of social networkers appear much more sizable than they actually are. Seemingly outranked in comparison to Facebook’s 1.6 billion, Tsu founder Sebastian Sobczak’s 4 million users by social media standards is a meager number? Not the case. Tsu’s block by the world's largest social network has proven to be an historic modern-day David vs Goliath story played out on a global stage.

The Word according to Zuckerberg

A free and open Internet is something Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg proselytized from the early days of his social network. In 2012, when pushed to defend this position, he adamantly stated: ”Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission - to make the world more open and connected.”

Words to live by, Mr. Zuckerberg!Words to live by, Mr. Zuckerberg!This was his attempt to paint the goals of his company far loftier than corporations obsessed with a greed and bottom-line mentality.

Building his case, he compared his invention to the printing press and television. “Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.” And there is this: “We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

So what went astray?

One needs to ask what transpired to make the founder of Facebook retreat from his core beliefs in what looked to be contradictory, if not outwardly hypocritical?

On September 25, the 4 million users of Tsu discovered they could no longer post any updates to Facebook, Instagram or Messenger that included a Tsu hyperlink URL: ‘Tsu.co.’

When ZDNet reporter Eileen Brown questioned FB spokesperson, Melanie Ensign as to what rationale was behind the network's decision to censor another, she noted:  "We require any website or app that integrates with Facebook to comply with our platform policies." She then elaborated on that point in a Wired report by indicating that “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.”

Sobczak, on the other hand perceived the move to be blatant censorship, as did the blogosphere. Based on Tsu’s business model, it’s Sobczak’s contention that Facebook wanted to diminish the effectiveness of an upstart trying to popularize the idea that social networkers should get paid for posts that help sell's a company's advertising.

And by all appearances, his position was supported by tens of thousands of others in the social media space. The unequivocal evidence of that support can be found online. Today, if you were to conduct a keyword search of “Facebook Tsu” you will find hundreds of articles and posts that condemned the actions taken by Facebook. 

On November 21, a “Collective PLEA for Facebook to STOP the BAN on Tsu” was posted as an update status on Facebook. It stated:
Facebook has asked us to let them know if the ERROR MESSAGE that pops up every time we try to post a Tsu link was in ERROR.

Facebook, we understand your process, so please accept this Collective PLEA from thousands of us who feel this BAN of Tsu links was in ERROR. Thank you.


#WereLettingYouKnow

This post was surprisingly not deleted by Facebook and resulted in being circulated by over a thousand users on both networks.

Resolution by Both Parties

According to an ABC report on December 8th, it’s fairly clear the court of public opinion was enough to force that the ban be lifted, vindicating the network and righting the wrong supported by so many.

The two sides came to a resolution with a truce that required New York-based Tsu.co to remove a feature that allowed its users to share content directly to Facebook with one click. Now Tsu users will have to go through a few extra steps to transfer their posts to Facebook, or just copy and paste a link. The concession prompted Facebook to restore the Tsu posts that had previously been erased from its social network (which amounted to over 10 million). Tsu links can now also be circulated on Instagram and Facebook's Messenger app.

This also resulted in spokesperson Melanie Ensign having to retract her previous ‘party line’ statements. She now describes the circumstances surrounding Tsu’s two-month ban as a “miscommunication.”

A miscommunication? I don’t know if you can dismiss Mark Zuckerberg’s reversal on his core beliefs as simple as a ‘miscommunication?’ You either stand behind your word and support a ‘free and open Internet,’ or tell the world why you are straying from that principle.

Nonetheless, Tsuvians celebrated the lifting of the ban in high spirits by conducting charity drives, one of the ongoing types of initiatives that distinguishes this platform from most other social networks.

With peer-to-peer transfers baked into the system, the royalties that users gain from the network’s advertising can easily be donated to another with one click of a button.

So, for those interested in giving to one or all of the network’s 62 charities, you can join here and donate as little as 1 cent to the charities of your choosing.

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