Sunday, May 17, 2020

Couchsurfing falls victim to the pandemic and corporate greed has locked out all its users unless they pay 2.39$/month or 14.29$/year. This is sudden and we were informed over the email and Twitter only after we were locked out with a paywall. This feels surreal and dystopian. It also set a bad precedent. Today is couchsurfing. What is tomorrow? Twitter? Facebook? Gmail? Whatsapp? LinkedIn?

Asking for support, or is this a ransom?

The reason is ostensibly they cannot maintain the side due to the COVID-19 revenue loss.

The funny part is, even if you want to take a backup of your contacts or to contact them to get their alternative contact details, you need to pay at least that first-month 2.39$ amount. Then also, only if the other party also pays that 2.39$ you will be able to message them to get their contact details such as email address or a phone number (unless their profile already lists them). Otherwise, they are lost forever, unless you already have their other contact details already. Fortunately for me, I have almost all the great people I met through this site on other platforms such as Twitter.
Pay or lose your contacts
But think again. This is taking the users for a ransom. What will happen if one day Twitter or blogger does the same? To access my own content in blogspot, I must pay 3$/month, or to access my Twitter, I must pay some.

At least, Couchsurfing should give a grace period so that you can back up your contacts, reviews, photos, and contents. Is this even legal, given the GDPR and other laws, to lock the users out with the users' data? What happens to my data if I do not pay? They cannot keep my photos and personal information I have filled in their site. It is definitely a GDPR violation, isn't it?

I rarely used this site. But I made a few wonderful friends thanks to this site. The solution to this current economic situation is to open-source the code and let the community maintain the site. You don't need a CEO and CMO for a cost-sharing free economy site such as couchsurfing. A FOSS organization/community style fits couchsurfing more. Previously couchsurfing also had blocked one of my old friends for superficial reasons. 

Is couchsurfing a victim of COVID-19 or a victim of corporate greed and bad decisions? Only time will tell. In any case, I believe that most of us are not going to pay anything, especially when we aren't even using this site due to the deadly pandemic. Bye.

Update on May 20th: I asked them to delete my account through their support portal. Let's see their reply.

My support request was:

Due to the paywall suddenly created by couchsurfing without a warning, my data and images are locked inside I cannot even go to delete my account without paying for that monthly subscription. Please permanently delete my couchsurfing account and all its associated data permanently as per GDPR.


  1. Totally agreed! What an utter bunch of greedy wankers. Remember what Photobucket did back in 2017? That hasn't done them any favours. Please remember that CS was taken over by Airbnb, so - to me anyway - using Covid-19 is just a pathetic excuse to extract money from people wanting live the CS spirit.
    CS, I hope you change your ways. If not, then you may as well disappear up your own backside. Rant over.

    1. What they did is scary, to be honest. Not for the money or not because they are important. But it can set a lead, unless challenged legally. I fear a day when I want to access my email, and Gmail blocks access asking ransom to access my email.


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