Disqus Implementing Shadow Banning Tools, “Toxic” Content Detection
Disqus Censorship
(Last Updated On: April 24, 2017)

We previously wrote about how Disqus had plans on “improving” the user experience by being more proactive in moderating comments on publisher platforms. They’ve decided to take it a step further by introducing Disqus users to some of the new features set to roll out soon, including tools to shadowban users just like how Reddit and Twitter do it, and new machine learning AI detection for what they deem to be “toxic content”.

Strangely even though we use Disqus we weren’t sent a notice about the blog post, but thankfully user postman_ on Kotaku in Action did spot the entry over on the official Disqus website.

On the site, Kim Rohrer explains that…

“The Disqus Platform supports a diversity of websites and discussions; with such a large network of publishers and commenters, having a policy against hateful, toxic content is critical. While we do periodically remove toxic communities that consistently violate our Terms and Policies, we know that this alone is not a solution to toxicity. Oftentimes these communities simply shift to another platform. Ultimately, this does not result in higher quality discussions, and it does not stop the hate. In order to have a real, lasting impact, we need to make improvements to our product. Which is why, if at all possible, we work with publishers to encourage discourse (even unpopular or controversial discourse!) while helping to eliminate toxic language, harassment, and hate.”

In order to take measures against entire communities, Disqus will be implementing a form that can be used to tattletale on a website or channel.

You can see what the forum submission looks like over on the TOS Violation Submission site.

If a site is caught violating Disqus’ terms of service, they may warn the publisher, inform the website owner to “implement moderation improvements” or temporarily ban the site from using the service.

They say this is not only done to improve the community but also to appease advertisers…

“[…] we know that advertisers do not want their content to display next to toxic comments. Leveraging our moderation technology, we will provide more protection for advertisers, giving them more control over where they display their content.“

While the machine learning algorithm for detecting “toxic” content was viewed as bothersome to some, the one thing that really set off a lot of people was the open admission to using shadow banning. Rohrer explains…

“We’re working on two features right now, Shadow banning and Timeouts, that will give publishers more options for managing their communities. Shadow banning lets moderators ban users discreetly by making a troublesome user’s comments only visible to that user. Timeouts give moderators the ability to warn and temporarily ban a user who is exhibiting toxic behavior.”

Reddit and Twitter have also done the same thing. In fact, Twitter has been proud about their shadow banning, openly admitting they use shadowbans to fragment discussion.

The funny thing about it is that all of this totalitarianism has actually affected the mental health of the average American. They’ve noted that all this political tension has raised stress levels in America.

The other funny thing about is that when some people in the comment section on the Disqus site commented that this measure seems like another step towards censorship… to no one’s surprise, the comment was censored.

Some people are thankful they have more tools for moderation. Others are leery as to where this new position of authority that Disqus has bestowed upon themselves will lead. Some see it as a way for Disqus to finally curb communication on sites that espouse opinions and discussions that are “unpopular” with the SJW types.


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • George Clark

    Google has been steering and censoring their search engine fo a couple of years now if not more.

  • George Clark

    Google has been steering and censoring their search engine fo a couple of years now if not more.

    • I’ve definitely noticed in the last few years. The way they steer topical information to casuals is just insane.

    • I’ve definitely noticed in the last few years. The way they steer topical information to casuals is just insane.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    Disqus was already on a spiral downfall when it removed downvotes, search engine, and experimental features such as negative vote counts…and that was back in 2014/2015

  • John27

    If you comment on a Breitbart article, then later try to access your comment via disqus by clicking ‘view in discussion’ disqus blocks the link to Breitbart. You just get the “uh oh something didn’t work” message every time. They don’t do this to any other website. Disqus hasn’t banned Breitbart entirely, but they’re being passive aggressive.

    https://s15.postimg.org/498cjzyq3/aerhaerhaerrherh.png

  • spambot

    geez it learns…..hey taytweets is that you?

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    Disqus used to be a social networking service where users could express unconventional comments. Nowadays, it is stricter than Google+…

  • Dominic John Chan Maca

    Then I guess it is time to change to another commenting system for sites that use Disqus.

  • Mr Snow

    Disqus shadowbanning, lel. And as we all know, hate speech is having an opinion a progressive disagrees with…

    So the Breitbart Disqus is gonna be completely empty.

  • Terry Hill

    If you post to many sites run by Disqus be aware that there is no such thing as free speech. As they’ve been hijacked by trolls who will have your posts censored and you banned for no more reason than you have presented a reasoned argument

    For example: ‘I rely on the usual codicil E&OE and the legal view of such inconsequential triviality. “The law respects form less than substance, equity looks at intent, not at form” ‘

    I presume that it attracts such partisan moderators that gives them the same pleasure as a pedophile seeking employment in a school.

    • Thanks for the reminder. It’s comments like this that remind me why it’s best not to ever give moderation control to anyone else for this site.

  • AlecJ

    Thats why i hate these cross site comment logins. Its too easy to censor everyone with the push of a button.

    I am not long for this comment world considering my usual shotgun blast of anti PC thoughts.

    Im sure that was always the plan for some of these scum. Take over comment sections all over the web, then end dissent.

    Remember when the truth would set you free. Now it gets you shadow banned.

  • Alex Barbu

    A piece of advice for One Angry Gamer: find an alternative to Disqus.

    • Salt Miner

      Do you know of any alternatives that’s as far and wide reaching as Disqus? Pretty much nearly every site uses Disqus, sadly.

      • Live Fyre is pretty crap. There’s no way I’m using Facebook comments because they slow the site down to an absolute crawl. And also for some really weird reason Google blocks our content when we have Facebook APIs running on the same page as the actual article (that’s why I had to remove the widget on the sidebar).

        • Salt Miner

          What about Spot.IM? I don’t know how well it would integrate with the site or if you’d like it, but perhaps you could check it out?

          • I can give it a look. One of the big issues is spam filtering. Some comment plugins require additional plugins that take a lot more processes to block spam, and if you don’t add them then the site gets slowed down by spammers. It’s such a hassle trying to find a non-cumbersome comment section, which is why so many people stick with Disqus.

  • Gozu Tennoh

    Nice knowing you guys………..

  • Once the sites I frequent switch over to a different tool for comments, I’ll be deleting my Disqus account. Fuck this shit.

  • John27

    Could you imagine Disqus trying to censor the Breitbart comment section? They’re never going to satisfy the SJWs, and they’re only going to make Breitbart switch to another comment system. Is that the goal? Disqus doesn’t want anyone who disagrees with them to use their software?

    • RichardGristle

      Cue: another echo-chamber.

  • John27

    Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just let the website owners choose the level of censorship or lack thereof on their own sites? What’s the point of Disqus doing it remotely? Usually SJWs don’t cross paths with sane people online anyway.

    • VersVlees

      I wished they stayed in their own little corner but SJW’s are cancer (or STD’s) and they tend to spread everywhere. Turning everything into shit because of their butthurt feefees and mesoggyknees.

  • RichardGristle

    Disqus is a decent platform, it’s just too bad that the company itself is another one of “those”.

    I went over to their forums to see how long it would take me to get banned simply by disagreeing with their rabid far-lefty mods, and to do it without saying anything wildly offensive.

    3 minutes.

  • John27

    Eventually it’s going to reach the point where the only place you’re permitted to have a conversation is /pol/. The left can only rachet up their agenda. They can never back down.

  • that’s Disqusting!

  • chaoguy

    Reminds me of how Nichegamer got pretty-much false-flagged by two guys going at it, until someone dropped some inappropriate language, making advertisers pull.

    It makes little sense though.
    If the advertiser walks, it doesn’t affect Disqus- if anything it stops that website making money- ergo unable to afford Disqus services.
    If they stifle or censor topics that the website owner wants discussion of, then Disqus shoots themselves in the foot as their “customer” doesn’t get the service they want.

    They are toeing the line, hoping for virtue signalling points to get SJW websites to use their service- giving them a service that any $5 moderator could do for them (make the bad opinions go away). If they were smart, they’d have let website owners modify what words they want censored or banned- if at all.

    • They are toeing the line, hoping for virtue signalling points to get SJW websites to use their service- giving them a service that any $5 moderator could do for them (make the bad opinions go away).

      SJW sites seem to generate a lot of hate-bait discussion, but based on a lot of recent closures and declines in recent pitched eCPM, I’m not sure sure that’s something Disqus needs to be pursuing. Unless they like failure?

      If they were smart, they’d have let website owners modify what words they want censored or banned- if at all.

      They already have that feature. 0_o

      • chaoguy

        They do? Huh, curious.
        “We know you have your own list of what you find innapropriate, but we’ve set up stuff so other people who think you’re inappropriate can have a voice. You want a wider audience, right?”

  • Disqusted

    Probably explains why it feels like some of my comments have been shadowbanned. Figures.

    Isn’t the internet moving in such a splendid direction? Whee~

  • anopolis

    this aint cool in any way shape or form…its censorship plain and simple..what is toxic?? but of slack jawed sissies ruling the world…call me any name in the book, me don’t care. counter my arguments with valid points and use things like facts?!?! YOU MONSTER!!….its stupid and i don’t like it…bullying, and assholes are part of life…i like both of them..but only when im bigger

  • Oh the mods at Gematsu will be happy as they have been asking for more ways to remove wrong think for a long time now. I guess most sites like this one will drop Discus?

    • Haven’t found a low-maintenance alternative yet that can’t be exploited to overload the server CPU.

    • Kiryu

      The mods at Gematsu are sensitive snowflakes that’s why i didn’t bother commenting there anymore because my comments were constantly deleted.

      • Only people that comment over their anymore is Budgiecat and his minions as they basically control the site. Budgiecat can say anything, no matter how retarded and zero will leave him alone but if you dare say that PS4 pro is a scam then you will be banned.

        • PS4 pro is a scam then you will be banned.

          It really is a scam, though.

          • Yes but Zero is a Sony fanboy and actually was proud when he brought a PS4 pro at launch. He did an unboxing and everything. But apparently me pointing out that The PS4 pro never did as advertised meant I had an anti Sony agenda. lol

          • The Sony fanboyism is thick in some communities. I pointed out that there is a $499 PC that can do what the PS4 Pro can do and they got angry saying it really cost $650 (no idea where they got that from). I literally had to link them to the checkout page and they still got angry. So it’s not like it’s just Gematsu where that problem exists.

  • Alistair

    Hmm it a first time I hear they quite brass by saying out right shadow banning as other site had denied it happens.

    Besides shadow banning is and should be not allow. Under harassment.

    Tricking people thinking they post are there but there not is misleading.

    • Bitterbear

      This would require a class-action lawsuit that requires a hefty settlement. But it’s not going to happen.

    • VersVlees

      I think shadow banning and throttling are even more heinous than outright banning. If you are going to swing the BAN HAMMER at least smack it right into the face, instead of backstabbing the shadow ban dagger.

  • MONAD

    I think the thing that’s most disappointing to me with this, is the fact that these people don’t realize how much they’re affecting intellectual discussion and debate. By censoring and shutting down thoughts and opinions that these retards don’t like, they’re turning the population into fucking children.

    Or perhaps they do know what they’re doing. To be honest, I don’t know what scenario is more frightening. Them doing it without knowing what they’re doing, or them doing it knowing full well what will happen as a result. Both are pretty damning.

    • John27
    • Phasmatis75

      You my friend need to swallow the black pill and accept that these people are not interested in debate, but control of the flow of information. Either for corporations, political groups, rich groups, banks, etc.

      Whomever is able to most effectively control the flow of information will get the contracts to developer or implement their comment system on website and likely kickbacks from various groups (in private or publicly).

      If you don’t think this is the agenda then keep this in mind. Harmful Opinions had his family threatened for exposing Candid and the whole AI manipulation of posts.

      What is sad to me is by the time people realize that there is no means to negotiate with these people it will be too late for them.

      • Mr Snow

        Whatever narrative you want to push will always be true, because nobody can dispute it.

        • Phasmatis75

          Pfft people have more often than not with good evidence changed my position on things.

    • Smash Islamophobia

      “these people don’t realize how much they’re affecting intellectual discussion and debate”

      “Or perhaps they do know what they’re doing.”

      It’s the latter, of course. They’re not concerned at all with intellectual discussion or debate. They’re concerned with enforcing the constraints of the narrative. Heck, even a commie like Noam Chomsky knows that:

      “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

  • Element
  • The Watcher

    They’ve been doing this. I cannot count the times my comments arguing against feminists have been marked as spam.

    • Happens here as well. Some comments will be flagged, other comments will be moved to Spam even if they don’t contain a link.

  • utera

    Sjw’s, destroying the integrity of communications everywhere.

  • LurkerJK

    Shrug, now that disqus is implemented on half the internet, surprise surprise, they are going to be “extra helpful” to all those moderators that don’t wield the banhammer often enough, i imagine i will start seeing different comment systems coming up soon

    They are probably aiming at breitbart, i wonder why they haven’t changed to another system yet

    • They are probably aiming at breitbart, i wonder why they haven’t changed to another system yet

      That’s all I could think about while reading that Disqus post.

      However, Disqus advertising pays quite handsomely and is very low-maintenance. They also don’t issue as many warnings or police your content like DoubleClick vendors.

      If you give up Disqus you’re also giving up a decent revenue source as well.

    • Bitterbear

      They’ve been doing that already. Go here and see for yourself:

      https://disqus.com/home/forum/breitbartproduction/

      The whole channel has been blocked, and you can only access it via every single article. Unless that’s already a feature.

      • lucben999

        Does Breitbart know about this?

        • Bitterbear

          I tried to notify them but no response. Either I’m shadowbanned there or they simply just don’t care.

        • George Clark

          Breitbart hasn’t been the same since he died.

    • Smash Islamophobia

      Breitbart seems like they’ve been more aggressive about deleting/ banning posters over the past couple of months.

  • Rocky Gibraltar

    Monkeys running the zoo.

  • Keystone

    If I was someone with deep pockets and/or knew what I was doing, I’d be either making or funding an alternative to Disqus right about now — one that doesn’t censor the people who use it because they hurt the feefees of the perpetually offended.

  • Jack Thompson

    So I won’t be allowed to say mean words anymore? That’s retarded stupid dumb not very intelligent.

    And shadowbanning people? I may as well just not post at all if I can’t even know if my side of the discourse is being seen.

  • SevTheBear

    So if DISQUS goes down the same path as Twitter and Facebook, what other options is there? Minds.com?

    • Jack Thompson

      Maybe. Last I checked it needed some improvements to the way things functioned

      • SevTheBear

        Yeah Minds.com is confusing to use as it is right now

    • LurkerJK

      Not much to worry about, unlike Twitter, Facebook and youtube, comments are easy to implement with using php and sqlserver, there are a hundred different light weight open source projects for that, you lose the cross site functionality but i doubt most users care about that anyway

      This has written “bad business” all over it, seems disqus cant wait to set their investment on fire

      • Really double down on the hurt! Now that Denton isn’t at Gawker, go make Univision an offer to fork Kinja. And then KinjaDeux only operates on the shitlordiest of sites!