Conservative Group Accused of Censoring Stories on Digg

An undercover investigation by the website AlterNet claims to have uncovered a conservative group’s organized campaign to censor Digg, the world’s largest social media organization. The coordinated censorship is responsible for “burying” several thousand articles within three to four hours of being posted.

Digg.com exists as a social site, where users can submit media stories to share with other users. Many have claimed that it is a form of digital media democracy, where people choose the stories and news worth reporting, then pass it on to their peers who vote whether or not it is worth the read. When a story receives enough “diggs”, it will reach the front page, which can then lead to thousands of new page hits for the website that posted the article. Digg is responsible for roughly 25 million page views per month, and front-page articles can frequently overwhelm websites and cause them to shut down- something known as the “digg effect”. Currently, Digg is the 50th most visted website in the US, and among the top 120 in the world.

conservative group accused of censoring stories on digg conservatives libertarians3

In theory, the most interesting stories rise to the top, while the less popular stories tend to get buried. There is, however, a tactic called “gaming”, where groups coordinate their efforts to bury or digg stories. The act of gaming is against Digg’s terms of service, but proving it can be extremely difficult.

For over a year, AlterNet has been investigating one such group involved with gaming, the “Digg Patriots,” an extremely right-leaning conservative group that targets anything they see as being liberal, progressive, in support of the Democratic party, or any of a dozen other topics that include Obama, homosexuality, and abortion rights. The list is very, very long. The group also has connection to social networks Facebook, Twitter, and more. It is hard to estimate how many people belong to the group, as several of the listed members on the Digg Patriots Yahoo Group page, the site they use to keep in contact, are inactive or may be duplicate accounts for users in case one account is banned. Since the original posting of the investigation, the group page has disappeared from Yahoo Groups.  The final comment on the page before it was deleted read “WE’VE BEEN EXPOSED!!!!!”

Although the bulk of the group’s censorship seems to be directed towards political posts, it is in no way limited to just that. The report claims that the Digg Patriots frequently attack articles based on education, homophobia, racism, wealth disparity, green energy, and anything critical of conservative groups such as the Tea Party, as well as conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. The group also frequently buries stories from individual users that they dislike, who may have posted topics as innocuous as “Celtics take Lead in NBA Finals” which can be buried into obscurity within hours.

The article also highlights another tactic of the Digg Patriots: to target individual users and try to have them banned. One way to do this is to deliberately enrage users and try to bait them into saying something that could violate the terms of service. The investigation cites several examples, including the use of lying to administrators — in one instance a man lied and claimed to be African-American in order to claim that his target had said something that offended him as an African-American.

Although this form of censorship network is prohibited by Digg, who claim to be looking into it, there is currently very little that can be done about it. Many of the Digg Patriots have multiple accounts, and when one is banned, they simply switch to another. If the user receives a more severe ban that locks out the IP, the Digg Patriots have several methods to hide an IP address that they pass on to their users. A new version of Digg is on the way, and one of the changes will be the removal of the “bury” button, to be replaced with a “report” button, which should help alleviate this type of planned attacks on particular posts.

Computing

I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

Google denies claim that it’s tracking internet users when incognito mode is on

Google is denying claims leveled against it by rival privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo. The rival alleged that even when incognito mode is on, Google is tracking users in order to deliver personalized search results.
Computing

Snatch Apple’s 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to $1,200 off at B&H

The latest deal at B&H is offering up 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros, in space gray and silver, with Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPUs with up to 2TB of SSD storage.
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Computing

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Computing

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.
Computing

Chrome’s dark mode may cast its shadow over Macs by early 2019

By early 2019 Google may release a version of Chrome for Mac users that offers a Dark Mode feature to match MacOS Mojave's recent darkening.
Computing

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.