Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is The San Francisco Chronicle deceiving its readers through comment-deletion trickery? carries a snip from the blog Investigate the Media which purports that the San Francisco Chronicle and possibly other newspapers are deleting "ideologic impure" online reader comments:

The San Francisco Chronicle has recently activated a devious system by which it deceives commenters on its website, Here's how it works:

If you make a comment on an article posted at SFGate, and if the site moderators then subsequently delete your comment for whatever reason, it will only appear as deleted to the other readers. HOWEVER, your comment will NOT appear to be deleted if viewed from your own computer! The Chronicle's goal is to trick deleted commenters into not knowing their comments were in fact deleted. I'll give evidence below showing how they do this.

Why would SFGate do such a thing? Because ever since public input was first allowed at SFGate, many commenters who had their comments deleted would come back onto the comment thread and point out that they had been silenced for ideological reasons -- i.e. they weren't sufficiently "progressive" -- or because they had pointed out ethical lapses at SFGate and the Chronicle. Or any number of other reasons that the Chronicle did not want known. So, to pacify these problematic commenters, the SFGate moderators came up with a very clever and underhanded coding trick to prevent deleted commenters from ever finding out that they had been silenced.

Furthermore, reports:

The PBS blog "MediaShift" recently had an interview with Rich Skrenta, the former CEO of a commenting-forum-software company called Topix, in which he bragged about this capability in his company's product:

There’s a lot of tricks in it. For instance, if you are banned from the forums, you can actually still post, and see your own posts, but other people don’t see them. That’s a neat social trick, because if you know you’ve been banned, most people will work around that. They’ll clear their cookies and work to figure out how to get around the block; but if they don’t know they’ve been banned, and they seem to be able to post, it won’t do any harm to the environment.

Another software company called Prospero supposedly also makes commenting software with this crypto-deletion feature. However, I don't know for sure if SFGate uses either the Topix or Prospero software. (Hat tip: MonkeySon)

This trickery appears to be happening also at other sites:

We're also getting reports from readers that newspapers in Canada, Washington state and Houston may also be using the same underhanded software gimmick -- preventing deleted or banned commenters from ever discovering that they have been deleted or banned.


MataHarley said...

ah yes... progressives. The bastion of "free speech". As long as it's conducive to the progressive way of thought. What a bogus claim to fame. Cake icing for the other lie that they are the "party of the working stiff",.

Ya have to wonder just how long they can keep parroting this crap before Joe Blow starts catching on?

Alia said...

Your linked article is a screamer.
"Charlie, we'd like more tuna, please. More."

Mr. "Bring-Back-The-Draft", answer this:

(from the article)

Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts.

In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.

MataHarley said...

Consider they are the official reps of the wealthy, and also consider their rhetoric on raising taxes on the wealthy. I'd say... if a Dem wins 2008... we'll find out if rich Dem constituents really want to "give give give" out of their tax pockets to the poor, eh?

They just may find their wealthy constituents don't want that tax hike "on the rich" afterall.

It could be an liberal/progressive eye-opening 4 year term under Hillary.... LOL

Alia said...

Rubbish, Mata! Let me pull a Hillary response here, should she be elected: "This will NOT be tolerated, and neither will YOU!"

(g, r & ducking).