News sharing site Digg was undermined by fringe groups of conservative news manipulators for over a year before the story broke yesterday.These users frequently buried news deemed "too left-leaning" by the group, ensuring that th
is news was effectively removed from the site.
The San Francisco startup, founded by Kevin Rose, was responsible for shaping the now commonplace practice of forwarding articles to social networks, as well as popularizing stories on their front page by "Digging" the stories using a bookmarklet. The "most dugg" stories were often different than what one would commonly find on a more mainstream news portal, as frequent users often skewed more towards technology, liberal views and of course, stories about Digg.com and its staff.
The flipside of the "Digg" action is "Bury," which the influential conservative Digg members in question exploited, according to Alternet, by means of "multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives." These practices disproportionately affected popular stories on the Digg page, but also trickled down to driven traffic to news source sites. This is not a small effect - Digg is ranked fiftieth among US Web sites by Alexa, likely has three million users and generates around 25 million page views per month (all Alternet numbers).These tremendous shifts in bandwidth usage and page views have overwhelmed Web sites with the "Digg effect."
A year of undercover investigation connected to author Oleoleolson exposed these groups, now referred to as "bury brigades." One conservative group, who calls themselves the "Digg Patriots," buried over ninety percent of certain users and Web sites' articles. Along with political articles, these groups target other subjects including "education, homophobia, racism, science, the environment, economics, wealth disparity, world events, the media, green energy," and articles critical of GOP, Tea Party and Fox News leaders.
A new Digg site is imminent, with various safeguards to help prevent undemocratic gaming of the system. For example, users can now follow individuals or publishers so that they will have access to trusted content whether or not their news items have been Dugg or Buried. CNET reports that they will shelve Bury functionality.