Monday, August 13, 2012

Goshi Hosono's Fancy New Webpage: Alt Code for the "Send" Button - "please fill out the form below and click "I will support the wide-area debris disposal" button"

I wrote about the fancy new website for Goshi Hosono to publish (ghost-written) letters to the citizens of Japan last week to apologize for his past sins, which, according to one of the blog's readers cannot be adequately viewed on the smartphones.

Then, over the weekend I started to see the tweets saying "See the source code!". So I did.

And this is what the tweets were talking about: the alt code for the "send button" to send your message from the site. The top is what it is now, and the bottom is from the cache of the same webpage (with relevant parts in green rectangles):

Now: "Please send us your opinions and requests."

Cache: "For those of you who supports "Disaster Debris Disposal by Everyone", please fill out the form below and click "I will support" button."

Oops... The highly paid ad agency who built the site simply reused the old template for the mail form for the wide-area disaster debris disposal site, copied and pasted the code.

What they didn't count on was that many net citizens in Japan would watch everything that this particular ministry and this particular minister do with deep suspicion, and it took them no time to look at the source code and spread this information on Twitter, saying "Look, if you click the button to send your opinion, they (Hosono's ministry) will count it as a vote of approval and support for wide-area debris disposal!" I got the news from one of the tweets of this blog, which was probably the first one to alert people.

Someone at the ad agency seems to have caught on quick enough and modified the particular alt code, but before the webpage was cached and the damage was done. Another one for Hosono, but he seems to be too thick-skinned to feel anything.

(Alt code specifies what text message or description is displayed when the image is not loaded for some reason - in this case, "send" button.)


m a x l i said...

That illustrates why any meaningful voting should never be done via computers but instead via old fashioned paper and pen so that any granny is in principle capable to do a recount. I'm always amazed how people trust in "impartial" computers. When we vote by computers, not the voters determine the outcome, but the makers of the machines/software (which is always true, no matter if the makers want the will of the voters to be reflected in the outcome or if the makers have a different agenda.)

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that the Alt code affects the message sent or how it is "counted." As laprimavera mentioned, it is merely a text that gets displayed in place of an image such as the Send button in this case. It can be anything and might as well have read "I walked the dog today." Of course, it does help tremendously if it is text that explains the image rather than something arbitrary or, in this case, something that could be misleading and stop a person from actually sending his/her message.

Btw, if you have ever designed web pages, you'll know that accidentally copying inappropriate code happens quite often, especially if the code doesn't affect page functionality and the error is therefore not easily noticeable.

Anonymous said...

Dirty sneaky little bastards, someone needs to do a denial of service attack on that website..... any hackers out there with some time on their hands? please take that site out if you can..

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