Diggileaks? Digggate? Diggournolist?
I normally don’t blog about politics, but have little choice today. I just discovered that I am part of a conservative censorship group on Digg.com that has been
caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives.
At first, I thought it might be a joke because of the premise that a group of conservatives have nearly succeeded in wrestling control of Digg away from the overwhelmingly progressive audience. But, the Alternet.org post went popular on Digg yesterday. It now has over 9000 diggs and 2500 comments–more than I recall ever seeing. The news is getting mainstream media attention this morning with a post at guardian.co.uk.
The organizer of the investigation and likely Digg Patriots’ infiltrator is said to be Digg user novenator. The timing of the release is probably due to the fact that buries are going away in the very soon to be released new version of Digg.
The writer of the post, oleoleolson, says that the group:
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.
Joining the Digg Patriots
Long and short. Did I join the Digg Patriots? Yes. Did I participate in burying progressive stories posted to the group? No.
I can’t tell you much about the Digg Patriots because I don’t know much about it. Digg Patriots are conservative diggers. I am flattered to be part of such a feared right wing conspiracy, but there are some things you must know.
- I am a conservative with strong Libertarian sympathies. Guilty.
- I am deeply disturbed about government spending, taxes, waste, erosion of freedoms, weakness in foreign policy and many other policy shifts over the past twenty years.
- I don’t speak for the Digg Patriots Yahoo Group.
- I enjoy Digg. But I try not to take it too seriously.
- I use one Digg user name, clickfire.
- I spend about 10 to 15 minutes per day reading, digging or submitting stories to Digg.
- Occassionally, I bury a story if it is blatantly untrue or offensive.
- Most of my Digg submissions are technology related.
- I have a lot of awesome friends on Digg of various political persuasions.
- I believe and hope that real truth will always triumph over popular truth.
- I don’t bury or digg because someone in a Yahoo group says to.
- If I were going to participate in a group that gamed Digg, it wouldn’t be a Yahoo hosted Group.
- The users listed in the story as Digg Patriots who I know are exceptionally nice people, especially EMFK, alanocu, gbudavid, thoughtsonthis, phoenixtx and ChronicColonic (I don’t know that all of these people are Digg Patriots, I’m just going on the assumption of the story).
Back in May of 2009, I received an invitation from a Digg friend:
About 50 of us conservatives from Digg have got together to shout at a yahoo group that I created.
I signed up and noticed a few other friends there, read a few posts, exchanged greetings, and left it there after about the first week. I dugg many of my Digg Patriots friends stories when I saw them on Digg, liked the stories and had time. I still do. But, I barely have time to digg my friends stories, much less bury ostensible enemies’ stories.
The most obvious problem with the story is the absence of sources or corroboration of the information. I don’t even know if what he is saying is true or not because I wasn’t an active member. It may be good enough for the sympathetic audience but why not go a step further and be a journalist?
His guilt by association take is troubling to me. The notion that if you become a member of a Yahoo group with a few clicks of the mouse, you must agree with everything that everyone in the group posts. And you must be active and guilty of cheating. The writer makes no distinction in friends who simply joined the group and those active members who may be violating the Digg terms of service. An important distinction, don’t you think? Who wants to spend time sifting through pesky details? Researching individual user data on Digg? Are you kidding? Do you realize how long it would take to verify if each one of the Digg Patriots members names published were actually active in the group and doing what they were accused of? No, I’d rather wikileak it, sit back and watch the viral oil spew into the social ocean.
Another problem is exagerration. The writer seems to be trying very hard to sell his story, using superlatives and shock speech. I suppose some audiences respond to this approach but cutting this close to mendacity does more harm than good to me. I wondered earlier this week if the patriots’ group was still active and was a bit surprised to hear a friend say it was still in existence, but not as strong.
What are the ethics of infiltrating a private group to publish personal information for gain?
I don’t know if a ”Digg Patriots’ Hit List” exists and if so who would be on one. There are at least two different versions of hit lists that have been published, a short one by oleoleolson and another longer one by FreakOutNation.
I recognize many of the people on the list. Except for Novenator, they are not the sort of flaming liberal zealot types that one would expect to be on a conservative hit list. How do I know? I know because several of them are my friends and people I digg regularly because I like their stories. In fact, several of them work in the search marketing industry and have interests that supersede politics as has been pointed out.
Smurfz, ZetaDog, VTbarera, nahsrocketeer75, Mwtapp, kplo, Blinker1315, Bukowsky
To the above, I want to say to you that I would never bury your stories because of someone asked me to. I consider you my friends. I know that you know that, but I just wanted to say it publicly.
Being active in social media and having been a serious news consumer before sites like Digg and Reddit appeared, I often think about how popular news differs from traditional reporting. My observation is that people believe what they want to believe. Not always what is true. This is the essence of social media news sites where you vote the stories you want to believe to the top. No need to verify facts. Just click that button and make it true for the moment.
Should Digg ban everyone in Digg Patriots? Should Yahoo Groups ban novenator? Should Facebook ban certain likers? I hope that Digg will do the right thing and dust off their powerful spam sniffing tools and look at who was actually going against the TOS on an individual basies instead of just banning everyone who ever signed up for Digg Patriots. They seem to be occupied with the launch of the new bury-free version of Digg. A bury-free Digg. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea.
Update: This post appeared on Digg here with some counter comments.
A few other conservatives have spoken out on the Digg Patriots issue: