The Digg Patriots are a group of about 100 U.S. conservatives organized to influence news stories and opinion articles on Digg, a popular social media site that generates approximately 340 million page views per month. A 2010 AlterNet undercover investigation found the group was engaged in "a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives." The investigation revealed that the group of about one hundred conservative members was able to bury 90 percent of non-conservative articles by certain websites and stories within three hours of their submission.
Digg generates around 25 million page views per month, over one third of the page views of the NY Times. 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. Front page stories regularly overwhelm and temporarily shut down websites in a process called the “Digg Effect.”
According to AlterNet: "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." The group particularly targeted articles, websites, and submitters favorable to President Obama, environmental protection (especially climate change), women and minority rights, diplomacy, and other "left leaning" issues.
The Inquirer explained that the Digg Patriots were designed to bury seemingly "liberal" stories, known as a bury brigade: "When a story is buried, it is removed from the upcoming section, where it otherwise would usually reside for about 24 hours, and cannot reach the front page. So by doing this, this one group is blocking the ability of the community as a whole to judge the worth of and interest in these stories on their own merits. In essence, they are censoring content at Digg."
Resources and articles
- Accuracy in Academia
- echo chamber
- fake news
- free press
- free speech
- media reform
- William F. Fore, A New World Order in Communication published Christian Century April 14, 1982. Well-researched article.
- Leonard R. Sussman, Censor Dot Gov. The Internet and Press Freedom 2000, Freedom House, 2000.
- Jack Guillet, Free speech advocate gives talk on abuses to journalists, censoring, The Advocate, March 7, 2003.
- Garwin Davis, Terrorism scare used to censor press, Jamaica Gleaner, May 3, 2003.
- Professor M.J. Bear and Professor Jane Hall, "Media coverage of the War in Iraqâ?, merican University School of Communication]", American University School of Communication, March 17, 2005.
- Joe Strupp, "Study: Media Self-Censored Some Iraq Coverage", Editor & Publisher, March 19, 2005.
- Jim Boyd, "Editorial Pages: Why Courage is Hard to Find," Nieman Reports, Spring 2006.
- Eric Alterman and Danielle Ivory, "Think Again, Blogosphere to Mainstream Media: Get Off the Bus," Center for American Progress, May 21, 2009.