An article on Alternet decisively describes a circle of hard right Digg power users who have been conspiring to bury stories they don’t like and stories posted by users they have deemed their left-wing enemies. The group, who called themselves the Digg Patriots, discuss strategy on a now-deleted Yahoo group. According to the article, the “ring leader” of the group is a user named Bettverboten, “who issues multiple digg and bury orders everyday.”
The group was founded last spring. Since then, they have submitted more 30,000 stories to Digg and all together have recommended a million. In that time, according to Alternet, hey have been responsible for burying some 40,000 stories.
The author of the article, Ole Ole Olson, calls his reporting an “undercover investigation” but doesn’t get into what that entailed.
He notes that a new version of Digg is coming soon that could make it harder for Digg Patriots to operate. People in the group know about this and have reacted:
In an entertaining twist, this shift to version 4.0 is already being interpreted by many of the DP members as “another” conspiracy to silence them. They latched onto the latest paranoid rumor floating around that all stories that reach the front page are manually selected, and that since they are being “oppressed”, that somehow justifies their cheating.
Digg founder Kevin Rose tweeted yesterday that his team was “looking into this” but that they were focused on the relaunch. ReadWriteWeb got on the phone with Digg’s communications director Michelle Husak, who called the Alternet article “an interesting look into the lengths people will go to create the Digg experience they think is best,” which conspicuously stops short of condemning the people involved in Digg Patriots and implies that their use of the site was their perogative. She added, however, that the new platform will not have a “bury” feature and “focuses much more on a relevant and personalized news experience by allowing users to follow profiles of people and content curators that they know and trust.”
Digg’s apparent vulnerability to the efforts of groups like Digg Patriots– and there are more– is something competing social media services could point to as they try to win over users. Spotery, a Digg-ish start-up that relaunched its social media service a few weeks ago, has editors on its payroll who run a section of the site where submissions from users are vetted and ranked.