For those who might wonder why I care about the Gawker hacking and its implications, I’ll tell you why. Gawker Media is not just a funny, silly site on the internet. In 2009, the corporation was estimated to be worth $300 million, with $60 million in advertising revenues and more than $30 million in operating profit. This is not your schoolmates’ blog. In a time of news organizations closing down and facing massive layoffs, Gawker not only makes a profit, but leads the way.
So, I downloaded the hacked database yesterday because I wanted to check what/ if any of my data had been compromised. I had used a semi-disposable email address to sign up and my email and account passwords didn’t match so, I wasn’t overly worried. Today, however, I set to check out what was the extent of those .gov email addresses I had seen casually mentioned in comments and some news reports. I was wondering if there were many of them (or just a couple of clueless people who didn’t know better). Also, I was really curious as to the amount of astroturfing that could be involved (yes, I live and breath on schadenfreude). I thought I would check out the usernames and give a cursory look to their commenting history. However, I gave up after checking 100+ of them. Why? Each and everyone of these accounts has been disabled and the commenting history totally wiped out. Not a trace of what these people said on Gawker sites. Not a word of possible astroturfing, stirring political storms or just saying inappropriate stuff on public websites.
Now, please explain to me how someone who bothered to sign up under the username CosmoKramertheAssman suddenly has no comments in their history. This person did so under an irs.gov email address and considering they specifically were targeting Cosmo Kramer for the mocking, I would find it very hard to believe that this person didn’t post one single comment. Did the user suddenly grow a consciousness right after signing up, deciding it was better not to post one single comment? Neither did any of the other 100+ .gov employees I checked.
Did Gawker remove all incriminating data from these accounts, wiping them clean, sanitizing them for possible media scrutiny? All signs point to YES. Which is quite disappointing considering hundreds of users were up in arms because account deletion is not yet a feature for the masses.
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