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SF Chronicle’s Sneaky Comment Deletion Trick - Update: ThinkProgress is Doing It Too

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It’s been confirmed; the San Francisco Chronicle and their web site sfgate.com are deceiving their readers through comment-deletion trickery.

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.

I admit that when I first learned about this sneaky maneuver, the little devil on my left shoulder whispered in my ear, “Hey! That’s a great trick! It would eliminate all those angry emails from people whose comments are deleted. And people who were banned wouldn’t even know! No more angry emails! DO IT!”

Then I swatted that little devil again, and he shut up.

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