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What’s Tsu.co? Facebook doesn’t want you to know

Facebook is a real control freak. Despite all protests to the contrary, what with its purported support for net neutrality (which was previously called into question when it only allowed certain sites to be accessed in its internet.org initiative) and calls for free Internet, the social media giant is completely blocking one site on its platform. Tsu.co, a potential competitor to the Zuckerberg empire, is apparently so despised by the company that you literally cannot even post about it, even in a private message. Try it — you’ll get a message that reads, “You can’t post this because it has a blocked link.”

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Messenger and Instagram are also no-go zones for Tsu.co, “an invite-only platform that rewards social activity for all users.” The network allows you to “share photos, videos, and any type of content with your friends and followers,” and this, apparently, is ruffling some serious Facebook feathers. As of September 25, Tsu has become the equivalent of Lord Voldemort on the Facebook platform — even mentioning its name is forbidden.

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Facebook claims that users identified Tsu.co links as spam, causing the company to implement a site-wide block. But it’s worth mentioning that previous to Tsu’s excommunication from the platform, Facebook had been generating an average of more than 2,543 site visits a day to its smaller (4.5 million users), more exclusive rival. And of course, Tsu thinks there’s much more to the story than spam.

“We’re persona non grata,” Tsu’s founder Sebastian Sobczak told CNN. “You can type in all sorts of seedy websites, and you can get to them. But not us. We don’t exist.”

The thing about Tsu is that it actively encourages you to share content because you make money off the ads displayed on your page. By contrast, Facebook  — and the other major social media sites — are the only beneficiaries of ad profits (think about all those sponsored posts you already see every time you log on).

With Tsu, however, you get to keep 45 percent. Another 45 percent gets split among the friends who invited you to join Tsu, and the remaining 10 percent goes to Tsu itself. This, Melanie Ensign, a Facebook spokesperson, notes, is essentially incentivized sharing, which can lead to annoying results.

“We do not allow developers to incentivize content sharing on our platform because it encourages spammy sharing,” Ensign said, and noted that if Tsu were to stop using this model, they’d be welcome back on Facebook.

But Tsu’s fans are a bit skeptical. “Very few people even know about Tsu,” Carolina Franco, a model and Tsu user told CNN. “I don’t believe that Facebook and Instagram want Tsu to go viral. it would cost them a lot of money.”

And for now, given that Facebook has deleted over 1 million posts related to Tsu, it certainly looks like the big boys on the block are winning.