The post title is adapted from my February 11, 2010 post Sparring in the Dark Alleys of Modern American Opinion. In the 2010 post I document a rollicking encounter with a rabid pack of Leftist trolls on a CBS comment board, concerning the issue of the Global Warming hoax. I recommend it as a fun read, representing one of my better contributions to this blog project. The 2010 post neatly documents (with a wry grin) how the Left utilizes the intimidation tactics of the mob to enforce conformity of thought whenever possible.
Today's post is an updated take on the same theme, involving more advanced tactics and techniques. Yesterday I got into it with the anonymous troll who calls himself 'darkknight91' on the Breitbart post Sleeping With the Enemy: Snowden, Putin & 21st Century Tradecraft. The question at hand, appropriately enough, was whether Edward Snowden is patriot or traitor. (For the record, my position on this matter has been well documented from the beginning - the NSA is out of bounds and Snowden is traitor. The NSA has no business engaging in unbounded warrantless domestic surveillance programs, and Snowden had better options for sharing his knowledge than taking his data to foreign enemies of the republic. Yeah, that's right - they are both wrong. Happens sometimes in this crazy world.)
Anyway, 'darkknight91' is apparently Putin's b*tch, just as Snowden has unambiguously proven himself to be. The evidence is contained in the comment thread screenshots I've documented in this post's footnotes. The most interesting aspect of this exchange isn't necessarily the exchange itself - no, it's one particular tactic employed by 'darkknight91.' You see, this particular troll knows (or knew at the time) a cute little parlor trick. After I had thoroughly schooled Junior while still in the realm of the English language, this troll exhibited the magical power to delete my comments.
The question then became ... what is the true scope of this troll's awesome power? Looking over the crime scene, a consistent pattern appeared - he only seemed to possess the capacity to delete the comments of others that were in direct reply to his own. (Or he chose to only exercise the power across this limited scope.)
Perhaps the Disqus password used by Breitbart's comment moderator had been compromised and harvested by 'darkknight91'. If so, why hadn't 'darknight91' deleted my other comments (the ones not in direct reply to his own)? Possible explanation for the extreme restraint might be extreme discipline on the part of 'darkknight91,' though his comments on this thread show little sign of discipline.
Perhaps 'darkknight91' is in fact employed by the Breitbart site as a comment moderator himself (which would grant him authority to purge anyone's comments based on his official role)? I find this very unlikely ... I can't see such an anti First Amendment fascist surviving very long in Breitbart's employ.
Most dangerously - perhaps my own Disqus password had fallen into the hands of 'darkknight91'! Again, we have the conundrum posed by the troll's unlikely show of discipline by not wreaking more havoc.
So, what's left? Not sure really. Maybe there is an exploit known among the troll community in the Disqus API, allowing the API programmer to delete child comments from other users knowing identifiers for the parent comment they own. This theory is at least consistent with the idea 'darkknight91' would be expected to utilize his cute little trick to the fullest extent possible.
The question of trollish discipline set aside, we must consider the contribution to this story that may have been made by the now infamous Heartbleed virus. The really sweet (/sarc) part for us end users is we have to wait for our service providers to apply the fix on the servers in the cloud, then tell us all to change our previously compromised passwords. Changing you password before the service provider patches its' servers will do you no good. Near as I can tell, Disqus support claims to be patched as of on or about April 19.
As the disappearance of the magical powers previously possessed by 'darkknight91' seemed to correspond with me resetting my Disqus password, there is some credence to the theory this particular troll is a Heartbleed thief. Why he didn't use it to inflict wider damage on my Disqus presence remains the unanswered question.
Next steps? Common sense Internet citizenship. I will contact Disqus tech support with my evidence. I will ask when specifically was Disqus patched against Heartbleed. I will recommend they take a close look at their API for the possibility of a security hole with linked comments. I will also recommend they investigate their server logs for further evidence of abuse by their user 'darkknight91.' I will also contact Breitbart to ask if their comment moderators have changed their Disqus passwords recently. Maybe I'll also ask them to exercise their legal authority as moderators to restore my original comments. Both of these neteprises (yeah, I think I just invented that word) are growing rapidly and will want to stay on top of any potential public relations issues.
These screenshots were taken last night and are grouped into two collections. The first collection shows the thread after 'darkknight91' selectively deleted my replies. These deletions are still present in the thread as I post this. The second collection consists of the originals from my Disqus profile 'Me' Feed. The relevant comments are tagged in Red as 'removed.' Manually constructing the original original (original squared) would involve a copy and paste exercise. I'm not being paid for this, so I'm not doing that.
Screenshot Collection #1
Screenshot Collection #2
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