Recently, a reporter for Alternet uncovered a vast conspiracy of right wingers to essentially take over Digg, ironically in what they thought was a backlash against the vast left wing conspiracy to sway opinion on the popular social networking site. Does this mean it is time for the left to launch online counter measures?
Up until now, the only “left-wing conspiracy” out there on the internet was that many educated people who use the internet regularly happen to be on the left side of center, like myself and likely any of the other four people who read my blog. But these events show that the right is willing to engage in some pretty dirty tactics to game what is being pushed on Digg. We can all pretend that we are above all that, but let’s face it, you can only really fight this sort of thing with similar measures.
The story won’t stop the fanatical conservatives who have decided to engage in these activities. They’ll simply go to the mattresses and fall back on their shadow accounts after the furor has died down, or the new Digg has rolled out, whichever one comes first. When that happens, the left should be prepared.
It seems easy enough; open a Yahoo Group or a listserv simply for the purpose of gaming Digg and other social networking sites, and using our collective power to bury or vote down stories submitted by the same creationist whackjobs that have tried to do this in the first place. Plus, I’m sure I’m not the first one to have this idea after reading the story, so there are likely groups already out there. Should you join? Is it ethical?
Of course, it goes against the supposed organic nature of every social networking site to game the results. However, we have been shown irrefutably that the site is gamed daily by people without the best interests of civilization at heart. If we want to protect those interests, we have to join some kind of similar online effort to combat them. They are engaging in online terrorism, and the only way to fight them is by using online guerilla tactics that match or outplay them. There is no “rising above” in this situation.
And what is the worst that can happen? You have your Digg handle canceled? Seriously, who cares. In the meantime, you’ll be scoring points for the good guys and ensuring that liberal voices are heard just as loudly as conservative ones. It seems like a no-brainer to me.
For anyone who is whining that “the integrity of Digg must be protected” or some other naive sentiment, believe me, that virgin shore has been conquered a long time ago. Digg has been gamed by everyone since the day it became popular. Social media marketers, private corporations, and political groups have all had a crack at it. This particular effort is more nefarious because it isn’t just pushing one company or product as a marketer would do, but trying to bury stories written or submitted by anyone with viewpoints that run counter to “God is great, drill baby drill”. The worst thing a marketer is going to do, and many wouldn’t, is to bury stories about or from the competition.
So do we become the bad guys by engaging in similar measures? First of all, it isn’t bad to protect something that is already under assault. Kind of like a farmer taking up his pitchfork to protect his home from the marauding hordes, and likely just as effective, let’s face it, they’ve been at it longer.
I’m going to try to see who is already out there that I can join in the online world. I encourage everyone reading this to do the same. Just make a few Digg accounts before you start, because you are likely to lose at least one.