Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another reason to avoid anonymous comments

I happened to see a little story on Think Progress this weekend that seems apropos of my continuing windmill-joust at anonymous commenting. The US Attorney for the western district of New York is investigating some comments, posted under fake email addresses to the website of the Wayne County Star, about a story involving an immigration raid on a local farm. Example:

“watcha doing to mi wifey, no checky her papeles. she no legal, but she havey benifit card. oh wait, take her and I get me a applehog till I go to Mexico. Viva la Raza!!!”
Someone looked at some source code, and it appears that this and several others, covering a weird racist exchange among commenters, originated in computers at the Department of Homeland Security.

This isn't a difficult hack, and it ought to make readers wonder whether some of the comments we see on the Courier site are similarly cloaked to avoid legal or political repercussions.


BearWhizBeer said...

very scary

Chris said...

The anonymous comments on the Courier's site exist simply because the initial required registration model wasn't favorable to readers. Thus, if someone doesn't wish to give their name or any other optional information, then the system defaults to "No Name Provided". Comments are filtered, obviously, to weed out any offensive or libelous commentary that violates the Terms of Use. CAPCHA is utilized to avoid spamming.