Log in to Facebook, create a post, and type in “Tsu.co.” Facebook will censor the link on all its platforms. That means facebook.com, as well as Messenger, Instagram, and the Facebook apps for iOS and Android.
Facebook did something a lot scarier, too. The retroactively censored over a million Facebook posts which mentioned Tsu.co. So those Facebook posts, and associated images, videos, or comments? All deleted by Facebook. Gone.
The word "Tsu," which is a competing social network, is okay. But "Tsu.co," or any links from the domain, are automatically censored.
Tsu links are spam, says Facebook.
Facebook is a gigantic censorship-happy bully that wants to kill off competitors, says Tsu.
In Facebook's defense, they do have a point here.
Tsu is a new social network, and so far it's small. Tsu has around 4 million users, Facebook has 1.4 billion and climbing. Unlike Facebook, Tsu promises to share advertising revenue with users. Maybe it's a scam. It definitely incentivizes scammy spammy comments that degrade the experience of Facebook users, I'll give 'em that.
"We're persona non grata," Tsu founder Sebastian Sobczak said.
"You can type in all sorts of seedy websites, and you can get to them. But not us. We don't exist."
Could Facebook decide that linking to Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, DeviantArt, Behance, eBay, Etsy, or anything else isn't okay on their platform?
Could Facebook blacklist news organizations or political speech that is not in their interests, and censor that material? Could Facebook block content that mentions Black Lives Matter, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Barrett Brown, the names of innocent people the government knows are innocent who are locked up at Guantanamo Bay without trial and without hope of release?
Sure it could.
UPDATE: Oh, hey, wow. Just tried to share this Boing Boing blog post on Boing Boing's Facebook page, and on my personal Facebook page. Nope. Here are the messages I got.
To get around this, I Facebooked a link to my tweet complaining that my Facebook post was blocked.
Also, this Boing Boing blog post you're reading doesn't actually link to Tsu.co. It only contains the text, "tsu.co." No hyperlink. There are no links to Tsu in this blog post, but Facebook is blocking me sharing my blog post because Facebook says it contains a link to tsu.co.
Hell yeah it's tedious. And that's what this kind of sneaky passive-aggressive technocensorship does. Makes it just that much harder for you to have a conversation that the platform owner does not want you to have. It's why the free and open web still matters, and why walled gardens that someone else owns and operates are a dangerous place to live.