Brave new censorship

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Imagine a world where opinions are censored without the censored being aware of it. You write passionately and publish your views and as far as you know, your opinions are out there for the world to consider.

Except that they aren't. Nobody but you can read what you wrote.

Such a world exists at SFgate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, according to a new blog called Investigate the Media. This blog was set up by a frequent commenter on Chronicle articles at SFgate. He discovered that he could only see certain of his comments when he was logged in under his username. From another SFgate account or when not logged in at all, the comments were shown as deleted. The coding trick involves the "cookie" that is created on your computer when you log in to the SFgate website. The motivation?

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.

A commenter adds:

What refined censorship. The censored don't know they've been deleted, so when they never get feedback of any kind to their comments, they are slowly demoralized and stop posting altogether. It's fiendishly clever and completely dishonest to all readers, left and right, though most of the left probably would approve.

Meanwhile, like a kangaroo court, the San Francisco Chronicle runs a kangaroo court of public opinion where citizens are misled into thinking that they have been heard. It's like a Monty Python skit but nefarious instead of funny.

Via Little Green Footballs.

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3 Comments

See-Dubya said:

I can't believe they thought they'd get away with that.

Bob said:

I suspect that our very own local www.TulsaNow.net (formerly TulsaNow.org) uses exactly the same ploy to censor forum posters who dissent from the TulsaNow.net agenda.

Clever swindle.

meeciteewurkor said:

That's ludicrous. There are enough watch-dog geeks out there to figure stuff like that out.
When will liberal rags learn? They only make themselves look stupid...

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 24, 2007 2:06 PM.

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