Mike the Mad Biologist

Can we once and for all recognize that movement conservatives do not believe in the fair exchange of ideas?

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)

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 group’ calls itself “Digg Patriots” (once again, giving patriotism a bad name). And they have a whole lot of hate going on (italics mine):

There are a few differences of opinion within DP, although for the most part, they are extremely similar in perspective. They hate Obama. They hate progressives. They hate the UN, diplomacy, and peace/disarmament efforts. They hate reforms of health care, Wall St., and immigration. They hate science, in fact many are creationists, and some even blog about it. They hate the secular nature of our nation. They hate environmental protection, requiring polluters to be responsible for their own cleanup, and especially hate climate efforts. They hate unions and any attempt to level the playing field to give all Americans economic opportunities. They hate the government, except the military-industrial complex. They hate abortion rights. They hate public schools and really hate higher education. They hate anyone in the media except far right personalities like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Michelle Malkin. They hate anyone who doesn’t think Obama is a secret islamist and/or marxist who was born in Kenya. They just love to hate.

Although this is a fringe group of Teabagging wingnuts, many well established figures in the Digg community are also present, such as BalancingAct, EMFK, Janinco, mikeinto, and spindig. 10 members have been part of Digg since 2005-2006, with 43 having their current account there for over 2 years. 19 are in the top 500 all time users as ranked by Social Blade, including 3 in the top 100. They have submitted over 30,000 articles, and dugg over 1,000,000 submits collectively. They regularly front page material, yet have some paranoid delusion that the Digg admins are part of some conspiracy to censor them, not once recognizing the blatant hypocrisy of their organized censorship doing that very thing.

I would write that their hatred approaches irrationality, but they blew by that marker a long time ago:

…any articles submitted by the users they hate the most are on their kill lists, including such benign things as SETI Opens All Data To The Public, Celtics Take Lead in N.B.A. Finals, Man Donates Phone He Used to Record Rape of 3-Year-Old Girl, 40,000 BP Australian Rock Art May Depict Giant Extinct Bird, Sarah Ferguson: I Was Drinking At The Time Of Video Sting, Top 10 Real Life Mutants, What is being Taught in a Bible Belt Science Classroom, and Totally Cute Puppy Pictures (buried in less than 30 minutes).

And what are the sites that they hate? Well (italics mine):

The DP group searches Digg for any articles from websites they want to drown out, sites such as Salon, News Junkie Post, Talking Points Memo, FreakOutNation, Five Thirty Eight, ThePublicRecord, Rawstory, The Nation, Media Matters for America, PoliticusUSA, Alternet, Fire Dog Lake, Political Carnival, TruthOut, DailyKos, The Joshua Blog, The Brad Blog, Huffington Post, Science Blogs, Smirking Chimp, Down With Tyranny, Crooks and Liars, MarioPiperni, Buzzflash, Bob Cesca’s REALLY AWESOME Blog, and The New York Times.

But really, the problem is one of framing. We’re just not civil enough. Or something.

Are we getting it yet? They do not rethink and reconsider, they regroup and rearm:

I personally vote for a complete blackout on lib subs: Bury every comment (including the conservatives “helping” to pop the story). No up-votes (no matter how much you agree).
-asami21

And:

Whether I agree with Bjornski, Anamaly100, PhilPerspective, Novenator, JanineWallace, UncaJoe, & a couple others I can’t think of right now, I bury `em anyway. *ACTUALLY* each of them has been “dead-on, balls-accurate” (an industry term) at least once in the past week or so, and it sort-of pains me to be dishonest by burying them anyway, but then I remember . . . I’m not up for re-election!
-BentheDog

And just like creationists (and many of them are creationists), they lie and dissemble in service to their Big Truth:

To all of our new group members: We are really happy you have joined us at DiggPatriots! Please remember this is a group that we are trying to keep below the radar. Please do not disclose this group’s existence to anyone outside the group on Digg or elsewhere. The longer we can keep this group on the down low, the better. I know you probably aready knew that, but I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page as far as the keeping this group from being exposed to the public.
-Ron AKA ChronicColonic

The good news is that Digg 4.0 doesn’t allow burying–and, of course, they’re viewing this as a conspiracy to ‘silence’ them.

This is not a movement, this is a pathology.

An aside: I’ve always wondered why other sites will link to me, but never Digg. Maybe this is why?

Great Minds Think Alike: PZ also covers this, and has some good tips on how to beat it.

Comments

  1. #1 Cthulhu's minion
    August 7, 2010

    This has been going on for years and is one of the reasons i quit digg.

  2. #2 Caterina
    August 7, 2010

    It’s a compliment that ScienceBlogs is on the burial list – you’re in good company.

  3. #3 DLC
    August 7, 2010

    I hit the Digg icon under the Mail + More button
    and got told that Digg is not accepting new users at this time, but that I should leave my email and I’d be told when “The New Digg” was about to launch.
    It appears I’ve been cut off.

  4. #4 Terje
    August 7, 2010

    Conspiracy theories are ever the last vestige of the vacuous and the extreme tribalist, as is proven again and again.

    This “digg patriot” group did nothing that power users haven’t done, like, forever, and that digg didn’t invite them to do when introducing shouts and encouraging to mention posts on twitter.

    Also, the influence of this group is vastly overstated, seeing as the ratio of liberal:conservative posts on Digg is still, and always was, decidedly in favour of liberals.

    And yet, on digg nowadays every shortcoming is blamed on some threatening imaginary boogeyman made out of paid conservative bloggers who work continuos
    I must admit I find the American tendency to see conspiracies everywhere pretty childish/frightening.

  5. #5 Otto
    August 7, 2010

    This is like arguing over who gets to take out the trash. Has Digg ever been anything other than a hive of paste-eaters?

  6. #6 Sam
    August 7, 2010

    Welcome to the internet. This is standard behavior for any sect of any belief here.

  7. #7 Pierce R. Butler
    August 7, 2010

    Terje @ # 4: I must admit I find the American tendency to see conspiracies everywhere pretty childish/frightening.

    Even when plain and documented evidence of the conspiracy and its effects is laid out right in front of you?

    Be more worried about the American tendency not to see things.

  8. #8 Robert
    August 8, 2010

    Digg was originally launched as the counter to Slashdot. Largely funded by Cnet, it was meant to be a for profit raise or bury social media site. Most corporations had it pretty welled gamed already, Digg of course hated this unless they paid for the privileged. Digg of course wont seek the prosecution of the right wingers who conspired to disrupt the Digg social computer network (a crime) as an investigation will likely expose their for profit distortions.

  9. #9 Custom USBs
    August 8, 2010

    I can show you all kinds of liberal conspiracies on every social site, including StumbleUpon, Digg, facebook, etc.

    Grow up people.

  10. #10 Rrr
    August 8, 2010

    I can show you all kinds of liberal conspiracies on every social site, including StumbleUpon, Digg, facebook, etc.

    Go on then! Whatchawaitinfor.

    BTW, I take it you approve of this particular neo-fascist conspiracy, as opposed to all those other, non-liberals that you so obliquely project, Customs – yeh?

  11. #11 Penguin Pete
    August 8, 2010

    It’s called “astroturfing,” and it’s everywhere on every site, not just Digg.

    I’ve been spending three days drumming out links and exposes of companies and individuals who game social bookmarking websites for a living, and the companies who are their clients.

    Part 2 here, part 3 here. (Part 1′s just an introduction)

    Really, I’m tired of this happening under people’s noses day in, day out, and it’s always being a surprise when the story does break. So thank you for raising awareness! I think we need to trumpet it to the rooftops so it can never be buried again.

  12. #12 Jinx McHue
    August 9, 2010

    Liberal groups did it first and better. Conservative blogs gave up on Digg years ago because of it.

  13. #13 Expose_Them
    August 10, 2010

    As usual,a lot of radical right-wing lies and spin.If nobody believes the unbelievable yet truly real and credible conspiracies by the crooked extremist thugs out there….(like J.R.Simplot cronies,Mormon Church,Clinton Sex Scandal,domestic anthrax bio-terror attacks by right-wing extremists trying to pin blame on others,and etc.)….it’s only because they have done already been spoon-fed too many of their own right-wing nutcase conspiracy theories that are NOT credible.Such as Barack Obama is an alien Batboy(half human,half bat,etc.)and a liberal elitist boogyman from the planet Neptune….or some other radical NUT-wing conspiracy theory just as equally ridiculous.

  14. #14 shoked
    August 11, 2010

    I am shocked. Shocked! to hear that astroturfing is going on on the internet.

  15. #15 Bat Bulge
    December 13, 2010

    The same thing is happening on other places that invite comments, particularly MSNBC and even CNN.

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