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08-07-2010, 01:01 AM
Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered

A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site Digg.com have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

“The more liberal stories that were buried the better chance conservative stories have to get to the front page. I’ll continue to bury their submissions until they change their ways and become conservatives.”
-phoenixtx (aka vrayz)

Digg.com is the powerhouse of social media websites. It is ranked 50th among US websites by Alexa (117th in the world), by far the most influential social media site. It reached one million users in 2007 and likely has more than tripled that by this point. Digg generates around 25 million page views per month, over one third of the page views of the NY Times. Front page stories regularly overwhelm and temporarily shut down websites in a process called the “Digg Effect.”

The concept behind the site is simple. Submitted webpages (news, videos, or images) can be voted up (digging) or down (burying) by each user, sort of a democracy in the internet model. If an article gets enough diggs, it leaves the upcoming section and reaches the front page where most users spend their time, and can generate thousands of page views.

This model also made it very susceptible to external gaming whereby users from certain groups attempt to push their viewpoint or articles to the front page to give them traction. This was evident with the daily spamming of the upcoming Political section with white supremacist material from the British National Party (articles which rarely reached the front page). The inverse of this effect is more devastating however. Bury brigades could effectively remove stories from the upcoming sections by collectively burying them.

One bury brigade in particular is a conservative group that has become so organized and influential that they are able to bury over 90% of the articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours, regardless of subject material. Literally thousands of stories have already been artificially removed from Digg due to this group. When a story is buried, it is removed from the upcoming section (where it is usually at for ~24 hours) and cannot reach the front page, so by doing this, this one group is removing the ability of the community as a whole to judge the merits or interest of these stories on their own (in essence: censoring content). This group is known as the Digg “Patriots”.

Read the rest (http://blogs.alternet.org/oleoleolson/2010/08/05/massive-censorship-of-digg-uncovered/). Hat tip: @ronaldjackson (http://twitter.com/ronaldjackson/status/20521626219).

[Added] Reading between the lines towards the end of this CNET post (http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20012916-248.html), it looks like Digg has finally admitted to a media outlet that it has a problem, but doesn't yet know what to do about it. Similarly in this post (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2367490,00.asp) on PC Magazine's site. Also, founder of Digg, Kevin Rose, has done a little nervous damage control/"nothing to see here" via Twitter (http://twitter.com/kevinrose); e.g., here (http://twitter.com/kevinrose/status/20425643104) and here (http://twitter.com/kevinrose/status/20495446328).

[Added2] BlackWeb 2.0 says (http://www.blackweb20.com/2010/08/06/digg-patriots-illustrate-the-problem-with-social-bookmarking/) the associated Yahoo group, "Digg Patriots," has been shut down.

They also say, as does MediaPost (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=133411), that Digg now claims its new version will completely fix this problem. We shall see.