Right-Wing Digg Scheme Just One Example of Widespread Effort to Censor Progressive Media
DiggGate is a large scale operation of censorship was just exposed on Digg.com following an undercover investigation. This is far from the first, and certainly will not be the last time a conservative group is caught red handed attempting to decide for everyone what to read and think, in fact, it has a very long history.
DiggGate exposed the actions of a group called the Digg “Patriots”, who were actively conspiring to censor content, bait opponents into bans, use IP tricks to return from their own lifetime bans, and have numerous duplicate sleeper accounts. Their systematic manipulation of the largest social media site in the world was widespread and been going on for over a year.
Ultraconservative Pattern of Behavior
Gaming social media websites across the board is nothing new for conservative groups. The ultraconservative members of the FreeRepublic do this very openly, they call it “Freeping”. Evidence of this has been well documented, and includes the famous rigging of an NPR Poll in which 89% of 2.75 million respondents supposedly chose to side with Fox “News” over Barack Obama. YouTube has been a target of hate groups and vicious creationist slander for years. FreakOutNation has previously reported on Digger Bury Lists & White Nationalists Infiltrating Social Sites. When gaming and disinformation do not work, fringe conservative groups have even resorted to direct internet attacks in an attempt to shut websites down.
This pattern of behavior is mirrored in the conservative main steam media as well. For instance the very transparent attempts to grossly inflate the attendance at Glenn Beck’s 912 Tea Party in Washington D.C. last year, when some figures were 20 times the actual amount present. Fox “News”, the network devoted to giving an air of legitimacy to conservative and Republican talking points for years has been caught over and over misleading their audience, inflating figures, and blatantly lying by watchdog groups like Media Matters.
In terms of Social Media sites however, there is a long and troubled history of cheating by conservative groups. Below are the most prevalent examples involving the largest and most influential social media website of them all: Digg.com.
DIGGS AND BURIES
One of the members of the Digg Patriots (DP) Yahoo Group has a long and pretty open history of attempting to game social media sites. He is SethStruck, also known as the ConservativeBrawler. He has a presence on Digg, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and theFreeRepublic. He runs two websites: TheConservativeBrawler and DiggsAndBuries, both on blogspot. The latter has not been updated since February when he joined DP, but has a long history of asking not only for Diggs for conservative articles, but also for buries of progressive content in an effort to suppress opposing viewpoints. To help with this goal, he created a Facebook Group, also called DiggsAndBuries.
Another way which the conservatives were openly gaming Digg was by use of a website called Diggcons, which has now been scrubbed (erased) to cover the tracks of it’s participants. Diggcons had an open and closed interface, the former could be utilized by anyone, the latter was a private board, access requiring registration and approval by the site admin.
DiggCons primary function was to aggregate conservative tweets using the #diggcons hashtag, which is still used by a few users on Twitter primarily as a means to promote their blog stories, although #diggpatriots is far more used now. There is also a DiggCons account on Twitter and a Facebook group.
Some users might recall a period when conservative groups were ‘shotgunning’ the upcoming section of Digg with every piece of propaganda from Redstate, FoxNews, WND, GlennBeck, The RNC, Rush Limbaugh, the Conservative Examiner, Michelle Malkin’s HotAir, etc. The Diggcons website was submitted to Digg.com under the title “DiggCons The HQ for Conservatives Spamming Digg”, and was quickly buried by the neoDiggCon group. Despite this, it garnered a few hundred up diggs from the greater community who were sick of the propaganda, and generated some heated conversation.
LIBERAL HERETIC DIGG/BURY SHOUTS
Digg.com once had an internal communication system users could use called Shouts. It was basically an Instant Messaging service that you could contact all of your friends with for any purposes other than burying other peoples submissions. When Digg rid itself of Shouts, the ultraconservative website Liberal Heretic created it’s own, which has since been scrubbed to hide who was violating the Digg TOS.
The operators of the Liberal Heretic site were best explained by DP ringleader Bettverboten (Lizbett), who wrote on the much later Digg Patriots Group welcome thread for thePartyStar (MyCarteBlanche):
“Sparta is on digg somewhere, but she won’t tell anyone cuz she doesn’t want the libs to find her again, punx is still on digg. Sparta (sharon) and punx (kerrie ) have a radio show every Thurs @ 8pm. http://www.radioforconservatives.com/ They have a chat going during the show. The show is prerecorded so Sparta & Punx are in the chat…it is fun. they run the website too.”
The Liberal Heretic also has a page on Facebook, although both users appear to have gone underground after being banned for violating the rules there as well. This ring was originally exposed in a Digg submit title “Confessions of a Rogue Digger -or- How Wingnuts Game the TOS”, in an article with vivid and comprehensive instructions on how to cheat on Digg. The article was erased quickly after being exposed.
Gaming Digg has also taken place from the so called FreeRepublic, a nest of far right hate and scheming. Many members of the recently busted Digg Patriots group are also Freepers. Some examples of the plots to game Digg on theFreeRepublic include:
“I’m not asking you to deal with obnoxious liberals. You don’t have to read their comments. You don’t have to respond to them. All I’m asking you to do is vote for an article at Digg and then leave. That’s it! Digging conservative articles is the same thing as FReeping a poll. [...] there’s no reason not to simply get a new account if you’re banned. There are various ways to use different IP addresses if that’s an issue.” (1)
“Unbelievable, # of Diggs jump to 100, and 29 comments! Thank you everybody! I think I may hire someone Monday to Digg. Rather spend $ now than spend much more under Hussein!” (2)
“Digg.com is a website to which all manor of video and pictures can be posted. Currently it is overrun by libs and Dems, but if we flex our muscle we may be able to change that a bit. What we are attempting to do is post videos and other information to the Digg site and then encourage other Freepers to “DiggIt”.” (3)
“Any one who would like to be added to the low volume FReeper Digg ping list, please FReepmail me. We really need MORE conservative voices over there and you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day and really make a difference! Thanks, Jan” (4)
Since DiggGate broke, the Digg “Patriots” have been in spin mode. They have attacked the investigation team by threatening lawsuits and tried to distract people with a random message from a member of the team from 18 months ago. Although as originally stated not every member was active, they all knew what was going on and chose to do nothing about it, whether that would have involved reporting the widespread TOS violations to Digg staff or even trying to talk the other members out of it.
The facts are:
•DP got caught cheating red-handed
•The core members have migrated to some other area to continue with their same activities
•less active DP members knew it was going on and did NOTHING to stop it
•Our investigation team has info to back up every allegation
•if all DP members sign a release, we will release all info to the public unredacted so people can decide for themselves
To date, Digg.com has not banned any of the Digg “Patriots” despite having access to all of our research, perhaps hoping that this will blow over until version 4.0 is released, which will make cheating by DP far more difficult. This defeats the point however, and their lack of action can only serve to spawn a host of new groups who attempt to cheat as well.
DiggGate is merely one example of a greater pattern of behavior for ultra-conservative groups online who consistently try to censor progressive messages, rig whatever systems they are using, and to terrorize opponents.