Civil Rights CAPTCHA asks how you feel about gay people being beaten with sticks

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

If you want to put a spanner in the works of automated bots leaving spam comments on your blog, or creating fake accounts on your website, one of the things you may deploy is a CAPTCHA system.

We’ve all seen them. They are the questions (often using distorted graphics) that you get asked by a website which is trying to determine if you are a human being or an automated computer program.

Sometimes they’re not much of a hurdle for humans to jump over:

Conventional CAPTCHA

On other occasions, they may present some of us with a tricky challenge:

Facebook CAPTCHA fail

And although some have tried to make the task of completing a CAPTCHA fun,

CAPTCHA challenge

others have probably made the barrier of entry too high:

Complicated calculus spam CAPTCHA

A reader has pointed me to a new CAPTCHA system, being actively promoted by the Civil Rights Defenders group.

According to the Swedish-based group, its CAPTCHA system “takes a stand for civil rights issues across the globe” and it hopes that it will “help promote and empower our partners – brave human rights defenders, who often put themselves at great risk through their engagement for other people’s rights.”

Here’s an example, where you are asked if you feel glamorous, pleasant or agonized at the thought of gay people being beaten with a stick:

CAPTCHA question

And another, where website visitors are asked how they feel about a ban on “homosexual propaganda”:

CAPTCHA question

If you fail to answer correctly (or at least, fail to answer in accordance with the opinion of the Civil Rights Defenders group and any sane member of society), you will be told to wait five seconds and another question will be popped up for you to try again.

If I have any issue with the Civil Rights Defenders’ CAPTCHA system it would be that at the moment there seems to be a very limited selection of questions – and all the ones I saw required a negative response.

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A wider gallimaufry of questions for web users to ponder – both negative and positive – would probably be a more effective challenge for automated bots.

All this, of course, is ignoring the fact that CAPTCHAs are frequently beaten today by spammers outsourcing the cracking of CAPTCHAs to impoverished workers in the third-world, paid a pittance for completing thousands of the puzzles each day.

Nevertheless, this is an imaginative step by the Civil Rights Defenders group.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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