For a long time CouchSurfing was known for its absence of censorship. This is now changing. In recent months there has been an very noticeable drive to censor the community. A big chunk of its growth in 2006 and 2007 on couchsurfing was due to people creating a CS profile because of Hospitality Club censorship. In 2013 it seems that CouchSurfing is going along the same path.
On this page we're trying to collect some useful resources about this matter. Feel free to jump in and edit.
- 1 The CouchSurfing CEO about linking to BeWelcome
- 2 Group deletions
- 3 Deletions of posts on places
- 4 Membership revoked
- 5 Other
- 6 Moderation
- 7 Links
- "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."
See also the post on the Brainstorm group. For clarity, BeWelcome is a non profit organization with a yearly "business" budget of 1260 euro (for 2013).
One member's response:
- Saying that talking about BeWelcome will not be tolerated is saying there will be censorship.
- Removing people's posts is censorship.
- Removing the ability for people to post on the CS Facebook page is censorship.
- Removing critical, outspoken members looks like censorship. Not talking about won't make it go away, it just builds resentment and mistrust.
- "I want to continue to be clear. I don't think it's okay for CS Ambs profiles to link to BW."
"I am not afraid to stand up and say clearly: CS Ambs should not be promoting BW on the site or at events."
Late December 2012 group 59753 was deleted, which was titled "Leaving CS for bewelcome". Until then similar groups were not deleted.
Deletions of posts on places
Posting some type of information on place pages is considered spam. It's removed. please edit this
There have been minor cases throughout the years but since the for profit "conversion" in 2011 these have increased, going as far as deletion without notice of 2 ambassadors in early 2013. Two very active members of communities in Berlin and Chicago were removed from the site. Both members had been quite vocal about the migration from city groups to "places" in which all threads had been deleted (which could be classified as censorship, especially given that there's no way to easy way retrieve old posts) and the consequences for safety. Also some normal members (not ambassadors) have been removed, there's another case in Berlin, and one in the South of France.
CSHQ has claimed these members have all been deleted for valid reasons but refuses to make any statements about what specifically these people have done.
Here's an incomplete list.
- D.S. from Berlin
- JVH from Chicago
- El. from Berlin
- please add more if you know of someone being deleted - don't put full names unless you were deleted yourself and you don't mind your full name showing up here
- A few months after his profile removal, D.S. was "invited back by the CEO" 
Posting on the FB wall of CS was disabled on March 12th 2013.
On 2013 June 21st, Tony Espinoza announced that among CSHQ's priorities for "the second half of 2013", there is "stronger moderation" Up to now, it is unknown if this announced purpose refers to an increasement of censorship (understood as gaging critical thinking and/or information about alternatives), or if this refers to what was usually refered as moderation (removal of racist/insulting/commercial/privacy-breaching contents).
Blogs and blog posts
- Couchsurfing Controversies by Pauline
- Zero Tolerance, Mar 14, 2013
- Couchsurfing faces backlash from some members after censorship charges, March 9th 2013
- Couchsurfing: A Sad End to a Great Idea March 4, 2013
- A CouchSurfer No More (aka Membership Revoked), February 26th 2013.
- Couchsurfing or The guide to destroying a working community, February 13th 2013
- OpenCouchSurfing posts related to censorship, going back to way before "conversion"
CouchSurfing HQ response
- Official CouchSurfing response about censorship - read and compare this to other blog posts
Posts on CS
- the next step of censorship: profile deletion
- I had doubts about my state of mental health- but it's just censorship
- Communication strategy: let me help you, March 18th 2013
- Farewell Berlin, CS threatening to delete my account, March 12th 2013
Against for profit CS
Posts on BeWelcome
- Is that "Don Shine" - who just has/was cancelled his C$-profile - around here on BW? March 2nd, 2013
- My Couchsurfing profile was canceled too!, March 2nd, 2013
- About bw:groups/77/forum/s5686-CS_threatening CS threatening profile deletion for posting a link to BeWelcome in the bw:Berlin group, March 12th, 2013
- Tony, CEO of CouchSurfing, tries to explain the removal of members without allowing comments. Speak up here! (couchsurfing.org)
- Q: Does CouchSurfing censor the members' emails or group posts?, undated, but definitely from before 2013.
- BeWelcome censorship