Forced censorship was in effect on October 20th, 2017 by the administrators of the commenting platform, Disqus. The company sent out an e-mail on October 16th, 2017 informing the website owner of Return of Kings, Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, that they would be permanently disabling all Disqus services on the site and forcibly shutting down all comment sections across the site.
Valizadeh shared the letter in a post titled “Disqus is shutting down ROK comments, effective Friday”. It was published on 17th octubre, 2017.
“Site activity or content that can result in the termination of discussion services include:
“– Featuring copyrighted material, which results in DMCA takedown requests.
– Adult-oriented sites containing illegal content which result in abuse complaints, users with inappropriate avatars or behavior visiting other Disqus sites in an unwelcome way, or are otherwise misusing Disqus services.
-Using Disqus on pages that contain hate speech, which violates Disqus’ Terms of Service and results in abuse complaints.”
Valizadeh doesn’t exactly know what terms within the user agreement the site violated, but he assumes it’s the “hate speech” clause.
The letter does later state that it may not have been just one issue but could have been multiple issues, where they inform him…
“Please be advised that discussion services for the shortname “returnofkings” will be terminated on October 20th, 2017 for one or more of the above reasons.”
If you check the site you will notice that most of all the comments are now gone. Some of them still show tabs for a certain amount of comments…
But if you scroll down the comment section is empty.
Valizadeh claims that he reached out to Disqus to ask about the specific violation that led to the termination of the service but as of the writing of this article he has not received a response.
I also reached out to Disqus to ask about the service termination on the site Return of Kings and whether or not it was a specific violation or multiple violations, and if they decide to respond I’ll update the article with their response.
Nevertheless, this particular act of censorship isn’t entirely out of the blue. Disqus has been actively notifying publishers that they would be cracking down on “hate speech” by manually policing web content whether the publisher requested it or not. The company has also made it known that they would be a lot more proactive in dealing with “toxic” communities and commenters.