Friday, August 6, 2010

Conservative Activists Censor Social Media Website, Manipulate Rankings To Advance Their Agenda

You constantly hear the idiots over at Big Government clamor about JournoList and the mainstream media undercutting conservatives and their news stories.  While there is no proof for those people's claims, there is an interesting story (with proof) that was on AlterNet that uncovered a conservative plot similar to what the conservatives perceived JournoList was doing - hundreds of prominent conservative members of the social media website, Digg, pumped up certain stories in an attempt to kick "progressive" stories out of view and control the flow of information.
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”.
An undercover investigation exposed the actions of the Digg Patriots, and the extent of the findings is great, with membership conspiring to access the website even after their accounts are suspended or banned.  They also worked to ban opponents
The Digg Patriots have censored hundreds of users, dozens of websites, and thousands of stories from the largest social media website in the world, but as of publishing time, no action has been taken by the administrators. Regardless of what action is taken, there is a clear and systematic pattern of censorship, duplicate accounts, dodging lifetime bans, and trying to ban other users by the Digg Patriots Group. 
I wouldn't be surprised if it was discovered that these people were linked to any of the Big sites or the conservative activists that contribute to those propaganda pages.  I also think it is funny that these idiots couldn't understand just why their pages weren't climbing in the ranks naturally - readers saw them for what they were - propaganda garbage.

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