The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

August 9, 2010


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2010 17:47:38
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
To: PORTSIDE@LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered

Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered
Posted by oleoleolson
Senior News Editor and Chief New Media Strategist for
News Junkie Post
August 5, 2010
http://blogs.alternet.org/oleoleolson/2010/08/05/massive-censorship-of-digg-uncovered/

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)

Digg.com is the powerhouse of social media websites. It
is ranked 50th among US websites by Alexa (117th in the
world), by far the most influential social media site.
It reached one million users in 2007 and likely has more
than tripled that by this point. Digg generates around
25 million page views per month, over one third of the
page views of the NY Times. Front page stories regularly
overwhelm and temporarily shut down websites in a
process called the "Digg Effect."

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".

Conservatives & Libertarians3

DIGG PATRIOTS

A group of nearly one hundred conservatives have banded
together on a Yahoo Group called Digg Patriots (DP), and
a companion site at coRanks to issue bury orders and
discuss strategies to censor Digg and other social media
websites. DP was founded on 21 May 2009. Since then,
over 40,000 posts have been logged at a steady rate of
around 3000-4000 per month. The "Patriots" Network on
coRank is a tool to submit Diggs to a group list as
opposed to sending an e-mail every time. It also has
some tools that make submitting to the list as easy as
clicking on a bookmark. The DP membership includes the
following Digg users (among others):

4verageJo3
alanocu
allisonrose870
asami21
atomheartmother
BalancingAct
Benthedog (ties with diggforwhatever, formerly LeConcierge)
bettverboten (formerly banned as Lizbett, sleeper accounts loquaciouslola, MsBoop)
bossm4n (BP site admin)
CaptCarrot (goes by therjcarter on other websites)
cajungal
ChronicColonic (Wrote `Tools to Be Excellent at Burying' guide)
clickfire
ClydePRM2
conservativepie
DCconservative
dgpj
emersonbiggins (formerly EdHurl, rjwusa, MightRighty, BurtToast, GangusGreen, esornivek)
EMFK (Social Blade Digger of the Year 2010, 65% popular ratio, DP site admin)
frofisrael (jenalp on Twitter)
Gandalff
gbudavid
heythere1857
howdoyouknow
jackalgunner (DP site admin, not active on Digg)
Janinco (DP site admin)
JasonQPublic (formerly scarlett0hara)
JeremiahLaments (formerly RightWingAttila, a DP site admin)
jjvors
johnny2k
KCLorelei39
Kraviwannabe
LandThatILove
le0pardess (1badk1tty)
libertyalways (formerly KurtHofmann, 45superman)
lilamae (Fillifan)
LoneStarLizard
LouisCipher777
maggiesnotebook
MattRoss1968
mikeinto
minarchian (duplicate accounts as Phreedom, CongressCritter, formerly Brewskie)
novaculus
PatriotRoom (billdupray)
pharoah247
phoenixtx (formerly vrayz, DP site founder and owner)
pookydirt
pray4sneaux (formerly energizersnobabe, a profile active elsewhere)
punx
quirkopatra
raggsat98 (MassRon, DP site admin)
Ramfire98
Raycheetah (formerly Browncoat)
robertsdig
SadLisa (formerly mollydog12, GrantPeace, FoolsGoldParty, UrdhvaMukha)
schwartzloenard (formerly NewsGuy2005, NewsGuy2009, ClydePRM)
SethStuck (ConservativeBrawler elsewhere, runs DiggsAndBuries site)
spiegelscott
spindig
starcmc
Striker101
sultanknish
tasine
Temlakos
texasknight
ThePartyStar (formerly LibertyCheeks, MyCarteBlanche)
thoughtsonthis
Welshman007
whatbubbaknows
zacharytelschow

bettverboten

The ring leader of the group is Bettverboten, who issues
multiple digg and bury orders everyday. She is a Digg
power user who has dugg 70,000 articles and has 1500
submits of her own (18% have gone popular) in one short
year on the site. She was previously known as Lizbett
before her lifetime ban for offensive and inappropriate
comments, and has two sleeper accounts waiting if she
gets banned again at loquaciouslola and MsBoop. She is
also on Twitter, although her primary focus is Digg,
where she has acquired a huge following of power users
who are likely unaware that she is gaming the system,
and even calling to bury some of her mutuals.

The other primary members responsible for cheating are
CaptCarrot, ChronicColonic, emmersonbiggins (rjwusa),
SadLisa (mollydog), Janinco, allisonrose870, asami21,
Benthedog, JeremiahLaments (RightWingAttila),
libertyalways, phoenixtx, pray4sneaux, quirkopatra,
raggsat98, Ramfire98, and ThePartystar. Digg and bury
orders are issued multiple times everyday, with most of
the members blindly following without question.

The list above is truncated from the larger membership,
some of which are inactive. Not every member listed has
admitted to violating the Digg Terms of Service in
public either, although most are guilty of some abuse or
another. This group is the heart of a complicated web on
various networks, including Twitter, Propeller,
StumbleUpon, YouTube, and Facebook, all dedicated to
ramming an extreme right wing viewpoint down the throats
of those communities and censoring opposing viewpoints.
This includes such means as cyber stalking, bullying,
and terror, as exposed on YouTube yesterday (something
not one of the DP group condemned).  Not surprisingly,
there is also a heavy contingent active on the
ultraconservative FreeRepublic.

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.

FP success of DP

CENSORSHIP

The primary function of the Digg Patriots is to censor
politically progressive content from the upcoming
Political, Political Opinion, World News, and Business
sections, so that conservative stories have a better
chance to get more traction. To do this, they constantly
monitor these sections, progressive submitters, and news
websites.

 	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

asami21 mass bury call

Although many hundreds of users are victims of this
political censorship, the targets of choice of the Digg
"Patriots" were typically the following: novenator,
Anomaly100, Amprather, FreedomJoe, noupsell,
PhilPerspective, bjornski, BePeace, Michael9636,
MercyPolitics, GonzoMuckraker, LiamFox, BIGOTHER1,
capj71, tcbishop12, SolidUncertain, SarahLee,
GeorgeClymer, uncajoe, Mizzy, MiddleAmericaMS,
rearlgrant, VegetableLamb, MrBabyMan, jrod4040,
whiteblackninja, EasyPeasy08, dagnabbit, danholt7,
Matt43, penolan, Jaime2000, and mklopez. They even went
as far as to bury the submissions of these user's
friends on Digg. Digg power user Bossm4n gave a list to
the group of the top 13 power users that are left-
leaning that they should target, stating that he has
been deliberately trying to ban the last one
(nahsrocket) for years:

1. MrBabyman
2. Noupsell
3. Badwithcomputer
4. MSaleem
5. VTbarerra
6. Jaybol
7. irfanmp
8. Bukowsky
9. 1KrazyKorean
10. d2002
11. kplo
12. bixby1
13. nahsrocketeer75

 	If any of the usual suspects subbed a story
 	claiming "sky blue/water wet," I'd BURY IT
 	without question. I've been on digg for almost 4
 	years. -JeremiahLaments (account says Joined
 	Digg on 21Aug2009)

bettverboten landthatilove bury

 	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

This censorship is not restricted to political articles
either. Articles about education, homophobia, racism,
science, the environment, economics, wealth disparity,
world events, the media, green energy, and anything even
slightly critical of the GOP/Tea
Party/FoxNews/corporations are targets. In fact, 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).

The following a transcript of a DP conversation:

 	Bettverboten (Lizbett): Check back here you late
 	nighters to see when and who subs this [article
 	just published on targeted website]. I am sure
 	it is coming our way.

 	Phoenixtx: Good recon Liz! Thanks! Let's keep
 	our eyes open.

 	LibertyAlways: It's up-bury! [link]

 	JeremiahLaments: Think we can bury it in record
 	time? I think we CAN!

 	[10 minutes later] We did it! Buried it with
 	only 5 diggs-might be a record!

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.

 	[use the] search site feature, I bury all the
 	subs less than 2 days [old] in matter of
 	seconds. I think we'd be even more effective if
 	we all did this to some degree with consistency
 	or at least with certain sources/sites. From
 	there it's like shooting ducks. -allisonrose870

Further, this is not merely a case of not knowing they
are breaking the rules, this is deliberate.

 	I am concerned that if Skype is directly
 	connected to digg like twitter is .than bury
 	rules probably apply like they do with twitter.
 	If there are monitors in the chat rooms and
 	someone reports we are linking buries and asking
 	for buries on digg with links, it may be
 	reported to digg. -bettverboten

Chronic bury

DUPLICATE AND FORMERLY BANNED ACCOUNTS

Beyond censorship, the Digg "Patriots" group regularly
discusses strategy on how to either come back after
being banned for life from Digg for violating the rules,
set up sleeper profiles, and how to utilize multiple
accounts at once without getting caught. Digg only
functions as a democratic environment when each person
is limited to one account. Discussing the time in late
2009 when zacharytelschow was temporarily banned for
homophobic hate speech:

 	Ron AKA Chronic: You can create another account.
 	Worse comes to worse, you can just lay low for a
 	bit and then come back.

 	JasonQPublic: Zach, if they won't reinstate your
 	account, you really don't have to leave digg
 	unless you just want to. Just follow the steps
 	below.

 	1. Go to whatismyip.com/ and write down the IP
 	address that is displayed at the top of the
 	page.

 	2. Turn off your cable or DSL modem for approx.
 	5 minutes then turn it back on.

 	3. When you are connected to the internet again,
 	make sure that the IP address displayed at the
 	top of the page is different from the one that
 	you wrote down in step 1. If it is not
 	different, go back to step 2 and leave modem off
 	for longer period of time.

 	4. Create a new email address at your favorite
 	email site.

 	5. Go to Digg and create a new account using the
 	new email address.

Account gaming by Minarchian

During the undercover investigation, dozens of duplicate
or previously banned Digg profiles were uncovered, some
with many of each. This is likely the tip of the iceberg
as many were reluctant to discuss their past, perhaps
recognizing that a leak could be devastating to their
censorship ring. Due to the rampant nature of this
conduct, it is likely that dozens more previously banned
profiles have not been discovered, and many more still
exist as sleeper accounts.

 	I can give a crap if digg bans me again. I'm
 	sick of little Kevin Rose and his bunch of
 	Frisco malcontents - emersonbiggins (formerly
 	EdHurl, rjwusa, MightRighty, BurtToast,
 	GangusGreen, esornivek, and many more)

Edhurl's former IDs

 	I've been permanently banned 4 or 5 times. You
 	gotta make sure you got a month or so between
 	[accounts]. .The libs make a big deal out of
 	start dates on profiles after one of us returns
 	from getting permanently banned. Maybe we should
 	have 10 or 15 identities created so the next
 	time one of us gets a permanent ban we could
 	come back with an identity that was created
 	weeks or months before. Kind of like Jeff came
 	back as Benthedog and they had no clue. -
 	Phoenixtx

 	When I created a new account, Phreeedom, I
 	changed my IP but they still banned me for
 	having two account. It got me thinking.how'd
 	they know? If you look when a page is loading it
 	also goes to facebook.com I think they are in
 	with FP to compare Ips. So, next time I get
 	banned I'll also log off FP and twitter first,
 	with the original IP and then create new
 	accounts there with a new IP, then create a new
 	account at digg. Of course you'll also have to
 	delete all cookies and web bugs from the three
 	sites too. -Minarchian

 	Google up: How to change your MAC address on -
 	insert your operating system-. This will give
 	you a new IP as many times and as often as you
 	like. Make sure you turn off your modem while
 	doing so. Also, Most sites keep track of you by
 	flash cookies. They don't delete like regular
 	ones.again Google for your browser. -Asami21

Another example of abusing the rules against multiple
accounts by the DP group was discussed in the confusion
behind who exactly was the digg user in their ranks
named Benthedog:

 	Jim used to be Benthedog until he committed Digg
 	suicide and got banned for life. He then became
 	diggforwhatever because his Benthedog profile
 	was banned. A few months later I noticed that
 	Benthedog was back in my friends list again (I
 	think someone at Digg accientally unbanned it.).
 	I emailed Jim and asked him if they let him
 	back. He said that he didn't know Benthedog was
 	back on Digg but since he was already
 	diggforwhatever he gave me his password in case
 	someone else needed down the line. When Jeff was
 	banned and didn't plan on creating another
 	profile until he moved to Ohio I gave him the
 	name and password so he could use it until then.
 	Does that help? -Vern (PhoenixTX)

 	I propose that I create a blogger account.
 	[Purpose being to] take a news story and to spin
 	it in such a fashion that we editorialize the
 	submission title and the byline (Description).
 	to get around the digg Terms of Usage agreement.
 	Editorializing a submission is considered the
 	`hijacking' of a submission by digg. Doing so
 	can (and has gotten me) get you banned. -
 	emersonbiggins.

 	Note Dp created this blog called the Rattington
 	Post.

 	So, next time I get banned I'll also log off
 	[FaceBook] and twitter first, with the original
 	IP and then create new accounts there with a new
 	IP, then create a new account at digg. Of course
 	you'll also have to delete all cookies and web
 	bugs from the three sites too. -Minarchian

ATTEMPTS AT BANNING OTHERS

 	Bury and report this comment
 	-Bossm4n

Another regular tactic of the DP group is to attempt ban
opponents. One method is to deliberately anger other
Digg users in an attempt to get them to say something
that violates the TOS. There are thousands of examples
of this on the Digg discussion pages (there is a comment
area for each article).

 	Can we get [digg user] for a digg TOU
 	violation?: The use of Teabaggers and NAMBLA
 	should come under one or more of these
 	definitions listed below from the digg Terms of
 	Use: libelous, defamatory, obscene,
 	pornographic, abusive, offensive, profane. We
 	need to make it a goal to get the dolt banned.
 	We need to mine his stuff. I think if we look
 	hard enough, we can get him banned. We should
 	form a team to mine his submission and another
 	to mine his comments for incriminating material.

One of the many DP members that write for the Examiner,
blogger Kurt Hoffman who is currently Libertyalways
discussed this during his first account as 45superman:
"[I] Just noticed that nicegeek got banned, too. I'll
take a 3 hour ban, in exchange for a ban (however short)
of itofts and nicegeek." Another example was when
Bossm4n provoked and got an unnamed atheist banned for
stating that the country is ready for battle when the
christian nationalists try to take over.

In another incident, rjwusa directed other DP members to
report and try to ban someone:

 	I reported DDRSkata. I also told a fib and I
 	stated I was African-American. Report to Digg:
 	"As a conservative African-American, I get
 	deeply offended when someone refers to one of my
 	conservative sisters and other conservative
 	African- Americans as, `Beulahs and Uncle Toms'.
 	Had I been white, and had used the terms, `Fag
 	or Nigger', I could expect to be banned from
 	digg in a very swift fashion. I trust you will
 	do right by the people of color who use digg."

THE NEW DIGG

Digg Patriots is the first large scale and protected
site that the conservatives use to rig Digg, but it is
far from the first place where they have done this.
SethStruck runs DiggsAndBuries, an open website devoted
to gaming Digg. The Diggcons group was active for a
while on Twitter and Facebook, and reported on at a Digg
submission. Punx and Sharon (formerly WeAreSparta) run a
website called the liberalheretic, where they openly
admitted how they cheat on digg (article has since been
scrubbed clean to remove any evidence), with one
admitting "I've probably been through 400-500 Digg
ID's," as reported by another buried story on Digg. They
also ran an unlocked shout-replacement system with very
open calls for diggs and buries which is still available
for now. Even the FreeRepublic has been attempting to
rally it's brigades to take over Digg for a while now.
Out of all of these, DP has been the most insidious and
pervasive in manipulating the king of all social media
websites.

Digg v4.0 should be released soon, and preliminary
analysis suggests that the ability of groups like the
Digg "Patriots" will be greatly diminished. The Bury
button has been removed, and there is only a Report
button, which will at least stop the content censorship
caused by the Digg "Patriots".

 	Wow-just noticed: 988 Facebook "shares," and
 	only 29 diggs. When digg changes to the new
 	format, which will supposedly be heavily
 	integrated with Facebook, Anomaly might become
 	much more formidable. Not a happy thought. -
 	Libertyalways

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.

 	I chalk it up to the AMA. The AMA stands for
 	Algorithm My Ass - it can work in your favor,
 	but mostly it works against conservative
 	stories. Lately the AMA has been good to us. -
 	ChronicColonic

 	There's no `algorithm' at digg. The `algorithm'
 	most likely consists of a bunch of liberal, bi-
 	sexual, emo-types, who drink mimosas all day,
 	and engage in a circle-jerk by night. When
 	they're not doing that, they pull a few levers
 	to get a banana payoff from a machine, which
 	they call the digg `algorithm'. -rjwusa
 	(currently emersonbiggins)

On another thread, many in the DP group were whining
that the Digg admins had just "removed" a conservative
story until someone finally realized the link they
provided was misspelled and the submitted story was
still there. What they fail to understand is that there
was never a conspiracy to censor their content, it was
the greater Digg community that did that because their
articles are usually unprofessional, fact-challenged
fantasies that nobody wants to read. World Net Daily,
Fox "News", Michelle Malkin, newsmax, townhall,
newsbusters, redstate, and the various conservative
Examiner authors on DP have very little to offer in a
rational discussion, and read like what they are:
propaganda.

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
Digg.com 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.

 	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

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Fugue


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structure which remains dissonant almost to the end, coupled tracings
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