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Habemus Über-Censor
Posted March 15th, 2013 - 11:01 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"OTOH there are individuals who have for 18 months or longer continually
complained about CS management, have publicly stated that they will not
contribute any effort to making CS better, and will actively work
against the interiors of CS. They have for 18 months had language in
their profile that they will not host surfers from CS, but that the
surfers who found these couches through CS, would have to sign up for a
competing website and send/ resend a new couch request through the
alternative service.

And while getting nearly all of their guests from CS through this
scheme, these people constantly over 18 months or longer post derogatory
comments about CS, spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about CS, the
future of CS, the management of CS, fabricating crises every time CS
introduces a new feature, redesigns an aspect of the site, removes a
program, feature, or in some way acts to move CS along toward a new
improved redesigned site.

Yet after 18 months of lies and deception, these people remove the
offending language linking to their competing site and the instructions
to use said competing website, as instructed in the letters they
received from Safety Team and posted. In removing said language, CS will
apparently allow these individuals to remain, continuing their
self-proclaimed campaign to destroy CS. They claim CS is horrible and
that they're going to delete themselves and go elsewher, but they never

Unfortunately these people remain, while some who acted inappropriately
only because they actually want CS to be great are gone. Reconsider the
criteria for keeping and removing members.

If you want a list of members who have stated publicly that they will
not stop until they've destroyed CS, you need not go much further than
reading their comments in Brainstorming Redifined and the Anti
Corportion groups. You should take them at their word. I believe them.
If they don't delete themselves as they have repeatedly claimed they
would do, you should consider helping them along in overcoming their


Our good old friend still hasn't assimilated the official CS position:

"Couchsurfing is a community of difference, tolerance, and cultural exchange."

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 9:59 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Is Tony Espinoza turning into another Veit Kühne (HC)?

To use his words: "Yes, I think it's likely (h)e will."

I interpret his latest post as referring to CS ambassadors only, but who knows how far they will take this in their desperation:

Tony Espinoza wrote: "I want to respond to Sergio's comment on BeWelcome because I don't want anyone to be surprised in the future. The fact that we have allowed profiles to point to BeWelcome should not be taken as an indication that it's okay. It's simply not okay. Will we eventually take action on this as a form of commercial interest? Yes, I think it's likely we will. When that time comes, I will make an announcement here first. Ambs need to decide if they are here to work together and make CS better or if they want to create a new community. We simply can't have CS Ambassadors conducting BeWelcome's business on the CS web site."


Tony, if that time comes, please update your terms of use accordingly in language, English and other, which any ambassador or user (whichever applies) can understand, and notify all registered users of this change in vision, mission and philosopy with enough lead time to allow them to make a backup of all their content and to notify all their contacts and friends that they will be terminated and prevented from using the services, and why.

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 10:47 am from Mainz, Germany
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Posted March 16th, 2013 - 11:11 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Good question. They already can. And with Tony's new definition of "safety issues" apparenty including anything they don't like or could hurt their business (see the deletions of ambassadors Don and Justin), logically, in theory, they would have given themselves the right to do so. But they are likely to find other areas to censor before they go to that extreme step.

Step 1: Censor, silence and remove ambassadors
Step 2: Censor, silence and remove users
Step 3: who knows

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 11:33 am from Mainz, Germany
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Posted March 16th, 2013 - 11:56 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
The Airbnb approach seems reasonable and understandable for a website which was founded and presented as a business from the beginning. Their business model is based on a very reasonable commission for putting people who are looking to rent in contact with owners of rental properties, providing an extremely professional service.

If they allowed customers to simply get the information on the website and then contact the owners directly, their business would be dead and a great service with it.

There's probably a smarter way to do that than censoring the mere word "Couchsurfing", though.

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 12:53 pm from Berlin, Germany
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Posted March 16th, 2013 - 1:35 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
What-the-Dickens said:

"The censorship of private messages, in my opinion, is not likely to be seen to happen. There are all kinds of criminal laws to protect private communication, and if anybody snooped in a private mailbox they would sooner or later have to prove to a court of law [... caveats follow]"

Too late.

CS has made it known that they read private CS messages between members "when they have a complaint," and then take "appropriate action," including banning members, removing messages (both private and public), etc. Since a complaint can be manufactured at will, they may feel completely free to pursue this logic.

No court is likely to accept the idea of damages for exclusion from a "free" website. Banishment is of course the most absolute form of censorship.

As to CS or AirB&B automatically bleeping Bi-Villkommen from private on-site messages, I think a US court would apply the same criteria to both Corporations, regardless of the comparable immorality of their pasts.

David Kupferfeld

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 1:49 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"No court is likely to
accept the idea of damages for exclusion from a "free" website."

What though, if the user had paid for "verification", been certified that you can be confident that he is who he says he is, or has made other "contributions"? Or has made hosting agreements which because of a sudden, abusive deletion he can no longer honor, and he ends up in some hotel with all the additional cost and inconvenience involved?

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 2:18 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
There are lots of legal considerations here. The bar for proving a civil suit is lower than a criminal action, a plus. But such a case is unlikely to be amenable to a class action suit, so the excluded member would probably have extensive legal expenses (and a trip to California) with only a remote possibility of receiving anything more than "actual damages". For several reasons (which I will inform CS of when they pay me consulting fees), I doubt such a case would be won, even for damages.


Posted March 16th, 2013 - 2:58 pm by from Sorum, Norway (Permalink)
yes the core issue with legal attacks against CS.
And what keeps amazing me: no organized group of USA-based veteran CS'ers has never launched a case against the incorporation in 2011.
It's really jaw-dropping. I'm almost certain that they could not had done an incorporation in Europe, because the capital brought in comes from a vast collective pool of donators.

Also, the "verification" scheme still running, is good enough alone, to turn ballistic against CS. But as you mention. any action must be launched from the USA, and because costs, by some kind of organization, with enough reputation and visibility.

Still, it was possible to ruin somewhat their reputation with viral online actions, but here also, nothing. :-(((

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 4:11 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
Oh, I'm not sure about 'nothing' Antonio....

Anyway, if it comes to it, are member of this group prepared to delete all references to BW from their profiles? Or has anyone developed a taste for martyrdom?

Posted March 16th, 2013 - 4:35 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
I think that if you are telling people to NOT look you up on BeWelcome, you fully comply with all guidelines and rules-of-the-day.