Don't send me your tsu.co link. Here is my review: is it a scam, or a money machine for you?

Mon, 2014-10-27 19:55

Unless you spent your last two weeks in cave with no Internet access, chances are, you have seen at least one of your geek friends invited or showed their interest in a new social network called TSU.CO. News is that they got $7M funding from a venture capital, and they claim to give you real money as royalties.

I'm not really the guy to ask others to not use it, but if anyone invites me to join it, here are my reasons to not sign up for it.

2 billion of you create social content and get nothing for it.
It's your content, your audience and you should own it.

They claim that social networks merely benefit from your content, and you get nothing back from it. Those selfies with 47 filters, photos of your trip to that overly touristy attraction, and all of those vague passive-aggressive status updates you made after your break up... Yes everything belongs to you, and you made the audience. It was never about who owns the content. A social network is just the medium to share the content.

"You get nothing for it": I doubt this too: Majority of your friends and family do not know or want to buy a server, setup a stack, and host those photos. A social network is convenient to keep in touch of your friends and enjoy the connections without worrying about the technical aspects. Average web developer can create a site, and create a loosely copied version of Facebook. It was never about creating the software. There are many social network software and SAASs. All the researches, UX work, mobile integration, marketing, and every other effort brought today's top social networks to their place.

It's a half Facebook rip-off

When Google+ started, they came up with some nice circles and better privacy controls: something at least hardly new. TSU? They have the same Timeline design, same features, and almost everything is similar to Facebook. It's not a 100% Facebook copy, either. You can't chat with friends, has no fine privacy controls, or any other features that would take a good developer to develop.

Facebook is valued $192B because of you, and Facebook kinda owes them to you!

Wrong! I saw many invitations to sign up for TSU saying Facebook is earning money from you. It's now a fact that young Zuck is a star in Forbes and earnings exceed GDP of some countries. You are not using the same Facebook software that Zuck developed years ago, and there are several people actively improving the site. That is the truth for all other social networks. It's the constant effort and financial game that valued Facebook $192B. It's definitely about you, but for investors, they are investing in the power Facebook has. They are not buying you.

For some reason, people are OK and cheerful to use online forums and other web sites for free. You even pay for some web services. How come Facebook owes you for making use of it, and on the other hand, you owe other sites for using it?

Zuck is an awesome character: He married a Chinese (those who know me closely know I have similar plans :D ), can speak Mandarin, donates money for charities and such. Remember, people - he earned all the money. It's his success and we happened to be the customers of his business.

You get paid for liking, commenting, sharing, etc.

I make my living developing web sites. When I get a break, I check out how my friends are doing and sometimes share my travel moments with my friends. It's just the way of socializing with people. When I share a link on Facebook, my friends know I find it interesting. When I update my status, it's just my thoughts (or something I copied from Will Farrell's twitter page). We hardly do any business on Facebook. With TSU, everything you do, you do it for money. Everyone becomes a sales associate and it's not going to be a friendly place anymore.

You don't get paid that much, either

According to TSU FAQ, they only take 10% of earnings to maintain the network, and you get paid back the rest. Let's take a look at some facts:
- Facebook earned $1.5 billion last year (source).
- 1.317 billion monthly active users (source).
- $2.24 earnings per user in Q2 2014 (source).

As you can see, Facebook is not really a money machine. You have probably made more profit for some other web site by clicking a few advertisements (take a look at some Torrent search engines -- you will see a dozen of advertisements with fake Download buttons). Facebook sure is a huge business with billions of profits, but individual user-wise, you are not really making millions or at least hundreds for the liking, commenting, sharing, etc.

TSU is only taking 10% to maintain server, staff, etc.

Now that we have the facts, suppose TSU could make a decent user base. I highly doubt they can maintain their servers and pay the staff from 10% of the earnings. Network administrators, database administrators, web developers, designers, UX engineers, QA persons, and all other related jobs are relatively high paying jobs. They had $7M initial funding and they couldn't even add HTTPS support. If you need your content delivered through a decent CDN, videos and photos optimized, faster chats, and top notch security and privacy protection, you better start donating money or start a petition and ask them to take at least 50% of the earnings for themselves.

HTTP not supported

Minimum check out amount is $100

John Smith

You have probably seen above screenshot of some fake (?) user, making about $20 a day. Did you? Unless you are top celebrity, you have to be lucky even to make a $5 a day. You can earn that money easily by creating a decent blog and spending a few minutes a day working on the blog. Do not fall for the screenshots! We web developers create fake data or simply modify the HTML source just to take screenshot for documentation, demos, etc. It would take years for average Kasun's and Samanthi's to reach the $100 check out mark.

You are (kinda) begging too :(

Whenever I see a TSU link, all I'm thinking is that you are trying to make me your child (a term used in TSU) and earn one third of my earnings. I don't see any interest in you about me whatsoever.

So, please

If you are happy to sign up with TSU, please go ahead and do it. But please, think twice before sending that invitation link to me.

Update on Nov 5

Thanks a lot for your comments and emails. You are welcome to post any positive or negative comments. I however deleted some posts (ironically) containing their TSU link. There were not really comments, just the link alone in the comment body.

Some guy on the Internet showed me a SCREENSHOT of their profile

This is not probably relevant to you, but in a small niche online forum, some guy posted a screenshot there claiming he's making nearly a hundred dollars every daily, with a link to sign-up for TSU. For some reason, people in Sri Lanka overuse "eMoney" and "Online money". There are many lazy keyboard heros with plenty of time to spam others.
Someone is probably earning that much money for real, but let's be honest: anyone can create a fake screenshot easily. See the example below:

Here is a screenshot I created with completely false amounts. Looking legit eh?
Fake screenshot

I didn't sign-up so this review is not fair

I actually signed up in for TSU in just a few days after it was released. I didn't post my TSU link because, well, I didn't want anyone to follow me or send me a friend request. I didn't say this is an MLM or a Ponzi scheme. There are no payments from the peers involved, and the money can be "spawned" from all levels. So there is a difference.

Also, I did some tests of my own about security. Specially, the "Follow" and "Unfriend" links were using HTTP PATCH requests with tokens to prevent CSRF. Some open source libraries were used, and overall the security was good. In my initial post, I didn't say security is bad either (except the HTTPS requirement for a social network).

Further readings

Amanda Blain has posted a nice article Is Tsu a Scam? 6 Things to Consider. Then, there is another nice article against Amanda's post 6 Reasons It's Not.

Good luck to everyone no matter positive or negative. Just make the best of your time. Life is too short to make your own billion doing nothing and being lazy.

Update on Nov 17

Thanks again for every single of you for your comments. Even though I didn't want to use TSU for some time, some of my friends went "radical" (or they call themselves so) and gave TSU a good try. They made from $0.08 - $0.96 for using the service for nearly three weeks. They had about 100-400 people friended, mostly strangers, on TSU.

While I am thankful for your comments, I must say, things got a little bit serious. I received a message today morning threatening to me.
message
Try your best to "hack" my site :) Writing secure code is what I do for a living, and that;s 8 hours a day. May be you should start by switching to a real browser and deciding whether you trust a company that handles 100% of your browser data through their servers and even acts as a middle man for HTTPS. G00d 1uck 2u!