Disqus

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Disqus, Inc.
Disqus logo (white on blue).svg
Type of businessPrivate
Available inMultilingual
FoundedOctober 30, 2007; 14 years ago (2007-10-30)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, U.S
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Daniel Ha
Jason Yan
Key peopleDaniel Ha (CEO)
Jason Yan (CTO)
IndustryInternet
Employees61 (2014)[1]
ParentZeta Global
URLdisqus.com
RegistrationOptional
LaunchedOctober 30, 2007
Current statusActive

Disqus (/dɪsˈkʌs/) is an American blog comment hosting service for web sites and online communities that use a networked platform. The company's platform includes various features, such as social integration, social networking, user profiles, spam and moderation tools, analytics, email notifications, and mobile commenting. It was founded in 2007 by Daniel Ha and Jason Yan as a Y Combinator startup.

In 2011, Disqus ranked No. 1 in Quantcast's U.S. networks with 144 million monthly unique U.S. visits.[2] Disqus was featured on CNN, The Daily Telegraph, and IGN, and about 750,000 blogs and web sites.[3]

On December 5, 2017, Disqus was acquired by Zeta Global.[4][5]

History[edit]

Disqus was first developed in the summer of 2007 as a Y Combinator startup headed by Daniel Ha and Jason Yan, who were undergraduates at the University of California, Davis.[6] Disqus was launched on October 30, 2007.[7]

In early 2011, Disqus raised $10 million in funding from North Bridge Venture Partners and Union Square Ventures.[8]

In March 2011, Disqus was used by 75% of websites which included a third-party commenting or discussion system.[9][original research?]

On December 5, 2017, Zeta Global announced that it had acquired Disqus for an undisclosed amount.[4][5] In a blog post, Disqus stated that it plans to continue operations as normal.[10]

Business model[edit]

Disqus operates on the ad-supported freemium financial model: the service is free to use for both commenters and small web sites, but displays ads. Web sites can pay fees to hide ads and unlock additional features.

In November 2010, Disqus began officially offering three add-on packages for web sites:

Starting July 2012, Disqus offered just two premium packages, the VIP package and a single-sign-on-only package for $99/month.

Starting in March 2013, Premium packages were phased out.

On January 4, 2017, Disqus announced new premium packages rolling out in March 2017.[11] A later blog post clarified that over 95% of sites using Disqus, mostly personal blogs and non-commercial sites, will be unaffected by the new premium model.[12]

Functionality[edit]

Language support[edit]

Both the Disqus site and comment system were translated into more than sixty languages in 2011. With the introduction of the new Disqus in 2012, language support dropped to seven languages[13] and even though Disqus accepts applications for new languages,[14] only one has been added since bringing the current number of supported languages to eight as of 2013.

As of 2017,[15] Disqus is translated in 36 languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese using crowd-sourced translation on Transifex.[16]

Criticism, privacy, and security concerns[edit]

Privacy issues have been noted as inherent in the use of services like Disqus, which serve their content through third-party JavaScript widgets.[17][18][19]

As with other embedded web widgets, such as like buttons, the Disqus widget acts as a web bug which tracks a user's activities, even when they are not logged in, across different sites that use the Disqus commenting system. Information tracked by Disqus, which may be disclosed to third parties, includes pseudonymous analytics data, such as a user's IP address, their web browser version and installed add-ons, and their referring pages and exit links.[20] Although these data are referred to by Disqus as "Non-Personally Identifiable Information", such data, when aggregated, has been shown to be usable for de-anonymizing users.[18]

Disqus has also been criticized for publishing its registered users' entire commenting histories, along with a list of connected blogs and services, on the publicly viewable user profile pages.[21] The option to keep profile activity private was later added.

Disqus also was criticized for not giving users control over who follows them. Prior to 2014, any user could follow any other user, but a user being followed could not control or block who was following them, which led to harassment among some users.[22]

If Disqus shuts down, hundreds of millions of comments would be wiped away from a wide range of sites, since by the very nature of the service, comment content is not being managed locally by sites implementing the service. However, it is possible for site administrators to export all of their comments as an XML document which can then be ported into other commenting systems.[23]

In September 2014, it announced an update to its privacy policy: "Disqus will be using anonymous interest data for content personalization and ad targeting."[24]

Third party service Disqussearch can be used to search through all comments by username. This is necessary for viewing old comments of users. On the Disqus site, the user can only load small batches of successively older comments one by one by scrolling down.[25]

2013 security breach[edit]

In 2013, a Swedish group called Researchgruppen obtained and exposed a large number of anonymous Disqus identities through the application programming interface (API).[26] The group cooperated with the Bonnier tabloid Expressen, who subsequently visited some of the commentators in their homes, confronting them with allegedly racist, misogynic, and derogatory sentiments. Researchgruppen said their database contained millions of comments from Disqus users around the world who are at risk of de-anonymization.[27][28][29] In March 2014, Expressen and Researchgruppen won the investigative reporting award Guldspaden.[30]

October 2017 security breach[edit]

On October 6, 2017, Disqus announced that a snapshot of its database from 2012, containing 17.5 million users' email addresses, login names and sign-up dates from between 2007–2012, had been exposed.[31] The data dump also included, for about a third of the affected accounts, passwords that had been salted and hashed with SHA-1.[31][32][33][34]

Issues with delete button[edit]

Previously, if a user attempted to delete their comment, Disqus "anonymized" their comment by changing the author to a Guest user, without removing the content of the body itself.[35] The only recourse at that time was to flag the comment, contact the site moderator to delete the anonymized Guest comment, or to remember to edit out the body of the comment before deleting a comment.

In April 2015, Disqus revised their Delete button to completely delete a comment from the website.[36][37]

Affiliate links and third party scripts[edit]

Disqus automatically adds affiliate referral code to links on the containing webpage, and converts plain text into links in order to add affiliate referral codes (this can be turned off).[38] Disqus also injects untrusted and potentially dangerous third party advertising code into containing webpages.[39]

GDPR violation[edit]

In 2021, Norwegian Data Protection Agency announced intent to fine Disqus 2.5 million euro for failures to comply with requirements of European General Data Protection Regulation. Allegedly, Disqus was collecting user private data and sharing it with advertisers without obtaining consent from websites using Disqus and users visiting those sites.[40]

Basic utility violation[edit]

In November 2021, the comments page found on the Dezeen website, hosted by Disqus, was rendered useless to a South of Scotland user due to the inability of Disqus to manage their e-mail verification process. This was evident when the user requested a password reset, which was not processed. The confirmation email never arrived. The user tried to send an issue report to Disqus' customer support, but was disregarded.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Disqus team member tweets current headcount". Twitter. Matt Robenolt. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  2. ^ "Disqus Network Traffic and Demographic Statistics by Quantcast" Archived June 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  3. ^ "The Numbers of Disqus". May 4, 2011. Blog.disqus.com, Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Zeta Global Acquires Disqus". prnewswire.com. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Lardinois, Frederic. "Zeta Global acquires commenting service Disqus". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  6. ^ "Disqus lays off 11 as it plans a deeper focus on data". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Stamatiou, Paul (October 30, 2007). "Disqus Officially Launches". paulstamatiou.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2010. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  8. ^ "Commenting startups Disqus celebrates its birthday with $10M more - VentureBeat". venturebeat.com. May 4, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  9. ^ "Lijit Study Shows Publisher Adoption of Social Media Tools Grows 80%". July 5, 2013. Archived from the original on July 5, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  10. ^ "Disqus and Zeta". disqus.com. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Ha, Daniel. "Our Plans for 2017". Disqus.com. Disqus. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  12. ^ Paganini, Mario. "Advertising will remain optional for over 95% of sites on Disqus". Disqus.com. Disqus. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "What's New for the New Disqus - Disqus: The Official Blog". Blog.disqus.com. June 30, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  14. ^ "Translating Disqus". Help.disqus.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "How We're Making Disqus Available in New Languages". Disqus Blog. Disqus. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  16. ^ "Translating Disqus". Disqus Knowledge Base. Disqus. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  17. ^ "#5667 (Is DISQUS a solution for spam-free comments?) : Support". support.mayfirst.org. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "There is no such thing as anonymous online tracking", Stanford Center for Internet and Society. July 28, 2011. Retrieved Jun, 10, 2012
  19. ^ "Disqus Spies On You!". citizensteven.blogspot.ca. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  20. ^ "Privacy Policy" Disqus.com Retrieved June 10, 2012
  21. ^ Thomas Baekdal, "The First Rule of Privacy", February 25, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2012
  22. ^ "Following other users". Help.disqus.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  23. ^ "Comments Export". DISQUS.
  24. ^ "Update to Disqus Privacy Policy". September 29, 2014. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015.
  25. ^ Disqus comment search
  26. ^ "Statement in Response to a Report of 'Cracking Disqus'", Disqus, December 10, 2013
  27. ^ Landes, David (December 12, 2013). "Swedes uncover Disqus user security breach". The Local. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  28. ^ "'I hope they starve' post fells Sweden Democrat". The Local. December 10, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  29. ^ "Expressen-artiklar får Disqus att uppdatera" (in Swedish). Computer Sweden. December 11, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  30. ^ Byttner, Karl-Johan (March 24, 2014). "Expressen-grävaren om Guldspaden-vinsten" (in Swedish). Resumé. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  31. ^ a b "Security Alert: User Info Breach". October 6, 2017. Archived from the original on October 6, 2017.
  32. ^ "Learning from the Disqus data breach". Nakedsecurity.sophos.com. October 10, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  33. ^ "Disqus Breach: 17.5 Million Emails Exposed By Login Hack". Ibtimes.com. October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  34. ^ "Disqus reveals it suffered a security breach in 2012". Engadget.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  35. ^ "Why when I delete a comment from sites does it then come back as a guest comment?". Disqus knowledge base. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  36. ^ "Disqus - You can now delete your own comments". Disqus.
  37. ^ "Remove and edit your comments". Disqus knowledge base.
  38. ^ "Disqus - Disqus Reveal affiliate links on by default, bad for SEO".
  39. ^ "Troy Hunt: Disqus' mixed content problem and fixing it with a CSP". November 14, 2016.
  40. ^ "Disqus facing $3M fine in Norway for tracking users without consent". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 6, 2021.

External links[edit]