Disqus (//) is a worldwide 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.
|Type of business||Private|
|Founded||October 30, 2007|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S|
|Key people||Daniel Ha (CEO)|
Jason Yan (CTO)
|Launched||October 30, 2007|
In 2011, Disqus ranked #1 in Quantcast's U.S. networks with 144 million monthly unique U.S. visits. Disqus has been featured on many major publications, such as CNN, The Daily Telegraph, and IGN, and about 750,000 blogs and web sites.
On December 5, 2017, Disqus was acquired by Zeta Global. The news of the acquisition was announced in a blog post by Disqus.
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. Disqus was launched on October 30, 2007.
In early 2011, Disqus raised $10 million in funding from North Bridge Venture Partners and Union Square Ventures.
On December 5, 2017, Zeta Global announced that it had acquired Disqus for an undisclosed amount. In a blog post, Disqus stated that it plans to continue operations as normal.
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.
Premium packages were phased out starting in March 2013.
On January 4, 2017, Disqus announced new premium packages rolling out in March 2017. 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. Pricing is as follows:
- Basic – Free, ad supported.
- Plus – $10/month – For sites with < 50,000 daily pageviews.
- Pro – $99/month – For sites with < 250,000 daily pageviews.
- Business – Sites with > 250,000 daily pageviews will be contacted by Disqus directly with pricing.
Disqus Basic is a free, ads-supported plan. It includes access to the core functionality of Disqus, including:
- Comments plug-in
- Spam filtering
- Moderation tools
- Basic analytics
- Configurable ads
- Real-time discussions
- Photo and video support
Disqus Plus includes all the features of Basic, plus the ability to turn off ads.
Disqus Business is an enterprise plan that is configurable to a site's needs.
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 and even though Disqus accepts applications for new languages, only one has been added since bringing the current number of supported languages to eight as of 2013.
As of 2017, Disqus is translated in 36 languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese using crowd-sourced translation on Transifex.
Criticism, privacy, and security concerns
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. 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.
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. The option to keep profile activity private was later added.
Disqus does moderate communities which use its service, by treating some comments as spam, when clearly they are not, in other words, it censors political comment, possibly by key word detection, leading to controversial moderation in some communities.
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.
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.
2013 security breach
In 2013 a Swedish group called Researchgruppen obtained and exposed a large number of anonymous Disqus identities through the application programming interface (API). 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. In March 2014, Expressen and Researchgruppen won the investigative reporting award Guldspaden.
October 2017 security breach
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. The data dump also included, for about a third of the affected accounts, passwords that had been salted and hashed with SHA1.
Issues with delete button
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. 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.
Affiliate links and third party scripts
Disqus has been found to automatically add their affiliate referral code to links on the containing webpage, even converting plain text into links in order to add affiliate codes. Disqus also injects untrusted and potentially dangerous third party advertising code into containing webpages.
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