Where have you gone Winston Smith? Our nation turns its doubleplus melancholy glazzballs to you:
The San Francisco Chronicle has recently activated a devious system by which it deceives commenters on its website, SFGate.com. 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.
Glenn Reynolds adds, “If this is real and not some kind of bizarre caching problem, I’m torn between disgust and admiration for their cleverness . . .”
To paraphrase what I’ve written before regarding media double-standards, imagine the howls of outrage from the Chronicle and the gallons of ink they’d spill on the topic if General Motors or Wal-Mart had installed such a system on their Website.