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On April 12, 2022, the filterbot (also known as 'bad word detector') temporarily stopped working.[1] As a result, users could post any inappropriate comments without being muted, and accounts with prohibited usernames were created.[2] Users could also comment large numbers, which is normally prevented by the phone number filter.[3]

Effects

A number of Scratchers received inappropriate comments and spam on their profiles, primarily users who were active on the forums.[4] Additionally, the censor for account creation was also not working, so a number of accounts with inappropriate usernames were created.[5] For example, during this outage, an account with the username of qnb02mclepghwic9, which was previously a disallowed account name by the filter for testing purposes, was created.[6] Additionally, during this outage, users were able to post comments containing the phrase "automodmute", which is normally blacklisted by the filter for testing purposes.[citation needed]

Many forum topics were created asking questions related to the outage.[7]

Scratch Team Response

Profile comments disabled
Project comments disabled

In order to reduce the effects, the Scratch Team disabled comments on projects, profiles, and studios as well as the forums.[8] The Scratch Team also released a statement via Twitter, stating that the commenting had been temporarily disabled due to "a technical issue".[9] The Scratch Team officially announced that comments were re-enabled at 3:37pm Scratch Time,[10] at which time the filter was working normally again. Additionally, Scratch Team member Paddle2See later confirmed that there were issues with the filtering system and that they were not the result of an attack.[11]

Controversy

On the Twitter post about the technical issues, the Scratch Team hid replies saying that the filterbot was broken.[12] They also deleted some forum posts about the issue.[13] This caused some users to criticize how the Scratch Team handled the situation.[14] Paddle2See explained that the posts were deleted to prevent the issue from being exploited.[15]

References

  1. kccuber. (2022-04-12). "the filterbot crashed? I'm not really sure what happened but people can now write blocked words without issues" post:6205310
  2. Super_Scratch_Bros20. (2022-04-12). "they also made accounts with inappropriate usernames, since the usernames weren’t censored" post:6206596
  3. Za-Chary. (2019-05-24). "The phone number sensor[sic] will only censor numbers that are 10 or 11 digits long (I just checked on my profile). As a result, not too many numbers are affected by the filter." post:3559108
  4. scratchykit5743. (2022-04-12). "They've been targeting [The Forum Helpers] members left and right." post:6205256
  5. discordusername. (2022-04-12). "Title: "temporarily disable new users joining", Contents: "i shouldn't be able to have this username, and people can make much worse"" topic:595997[dead link]
  6. users:qnb02mclepghwic9
  7. wolfbomb. (2022-04-12). "I've noticed that studio, project, and profile comments are turned off across scratch. Why? Did something happen?" topic:596033
  8. Time gap of 24 minutes between post:6205919 (3:16pm Scratch Time) and the next ID post:6205920 (3:40 Scratch Time)
  9. @scratch. (2022-04-12). "Commenting is temporarily disabled on http://scratch.mit.edu due to a technical issue." https://twitter.com/scratch/status/1513957027000709127
  10. @scratch. (2022-04-12). "Comments are back online!" https://twitter.com/scratch/status/1513964550827126784
  11. Paddle2See. (2022-04-12). "There were some issues with the filtering system but they weren't related to any kind of DOS." post:6206238
  12. Jeffalo. (2022-04-13). "the scratch team hid replies to their tweet about disabling comments." post:6208250
  13. HailStateDawgs. (2022-04-13). "Scratch has been dustbinning posts that discuss the comment shutdown yesterday, why is that?" topic:596303
  14. Scratchfangs. (2022-04-13). "How they are addressing the situation is disappointing. There is so much confusion going on, and more stress is getting pushed on the Scratch Team by trying to hide everyone from saying what happened." post:6208273
  15. Paddle2See. (2022-04-13). "As for why topics were removed - posting a security issue on a public forum is not a good idea as it encourages others to take advantage of it. Please use Contact Us or another private channel to let the Scratch Team know in the future." post:6208355
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