Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is the Washington Times Censoring Reader Comments?

I first heard about this issue a couple of days ago, and a reader has now asked me to bring it to your attention:

The Washington Times is definitely censoring its readership: for over a week now at the bottom of each online article is the remark ‘comments are temporarily unavailable’.

There’s been no explanation and, if it were due to a problem with the computer system, I would have expected to seek such an explanation, and apology, from the paper’s editor on its internet home page. There is only one comment facility permitted, on the question of the day, on which readers vote and can lodge comments, so it can’t be a technical computer program problem that no article permits any readers’ comments to appear.

On that comment of the day, several readers have remarked that the WT appears to be censoring its readership because of the lockdown on readers’ comments.

Possibly GoV could just mention this, perhaps asking its readers if they know of any other newspapers now deliberately denying their readers a comment facility that was previously available to them?

I don’t visit the WashTimes website often enough to have an opinion about all this. Readers are welcome to add additional information or their own opinions in the comments.

[Nothing follows]

3 comments:

Robin Shadowes said...

This phenomena has been known for years here in Sweden. Unconvinient comments gets deleted. Sometimes very fast, then they close down the comments function. There's not one MSM site who does not moderate unpolitically correct comments into the cyber trash can. So now this phenomenon has arrived in America as well. What probably happened is that they unexpectedly got truckloads of disagreeing comments. So much that they by far outweighed the agreeing ones. Then the editors/moderators got shaken up and deleted the lot and locked it up. Expect this phenomenon to grow more common in the near future. Be glad there are free blogs and forums still.

Robert Marchenoir said...

I don't know about the Washington Times, but Le Figaro, the leading right-wing French daily, certainly censors its readers online.

Be a bit too vocal against immigration and islam, and your comment is moderated away. I'm personally banned from Le Figaro for being too "far-right".

To be honest, I have no proof of this. No moderator ever told me so. In theory, it might be a technical glitch. However, complaints of censorship are frequent about Le Figaro's site among patriots and counter-djihadists.

They have sub-contracted their moderation to a company which oversees the comments on all sorts of media sites, including the very left-wing Libération.

According to one blogger, that company uses personnel based in Morocco, which would help to explain the suppression of anti-islam comments. I have no confirmation of this, so it should be taken with caution. But it's likely.

French call-centers are, indeed, often based in Morocco in order to lower costs. So there's no reason why third-party moderation of a news site would not be done from there, too.

90 said...

I think a lot of the liberal news media sites deliberately edit the comments to make the posts extremely liberal. None of this surprises me the least bit. They are deceitful concerning what they report and they have been for years.