Wednesday, April 08, 2015

What are pingbacks and linkbacks? Do they matter?

I’ve noticed that whenever I provide a link to one of my two Wordpress blogs, I get a “comment moderation” email from BlueHost and Wordpress requesting approval of a “pingback”.
Blogger does not seem to provide such a moderation feature.
The subject is “linkbacks” and the ability of webmasters to be notified when someone has provided a hyperlink to their content.  I suppose it is possible for a webmaster to try to block the link, but I don’t know if I have ever experienced this.  Wikipedia (Linkback and Pingback) notes that there has been concern that link could be used to facilitate a DDOS attack, but I’m not aware that this has really happened. 
Around the year 2000, a few companies tried to ban deep hyperlinks to their sites, until a court ruled that hyperlinks are like bibliographic footnotes in a high school term paper.  Embeds are essentially “just” hyperlinks. 
But in rare cases, liability for defamation for linking to defamatory information is possible.   And an interesting question occurs if one links to another site with information trying to incite violence or terrorism or instructions as to how to do it (with recent international tensions in mind).  Under Section 230, it would seem that a webmaster would not be responsible for anything like this in a user comment (or forum post).  

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