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Summary:

Update: Digg just took their site down. Kevin Rose on the company blog gives his response: But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. […]

Update: Digg just took their site down. Kevin Rose on the company blog gives his response:

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

Nerd anarchy? An e-Rebellion? Or just mob justice… which ever way you look at it social news site, Digg is facing the greatest crisis of its young life. The front page of Digg has been taken over by stories about and related to a hacked HD-DVD key.

To recap, someone has posted a link to a story about the said key getting cracked, and included the key in the title and description of the story. Digg staff took down the story, fearing that it would get sued by MPAA, as outlined in this blog post by CEO Jay Adelson.

This resulted in a proverbial take-to-the-streets riot, and now most of Digg front page stories are either related to the key-story, or are variants of the original deleted story. Ryan Block of Engadget is not alone in wondering, “How did such a loyal userbase as Digg’s so quickly divert its all-consuming energy to defying — even damaging — the company to which it was so loyal?”

One of my readers (hi Jon) sums it up nicely, “I think the real story here is user-generated content biting back when it’s actively censored by the site generating revenue from it.” Another dear friend is wondering if this is going to lead to traditional media wrinkling their nose at the social media and its ills.

It is hard for me to form an opinion on this right now – for I am watching this drama unfold in near real time with morbid fascination.

The questions on my mind now (but no answers)

1. Is it legally liable for the actions of its community which was initially pointing to a story published by an independent publications? If that is the case, then YouTube-Viacom drama becomes even more intriguing.
2. If not, then did Digg act rashly?
3. Can Digg recover from this set back?

Thanks Jon, Brian and everyone else who sent this in.

  1. digg has jumped the shark

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  2. The site is now back up, though momentarily it had a “We’ll be back shortly after making some changes.” I’m surprised they didn’t leave it down longer to let things cool down. The front page and RSS feed is worthless at the moment…

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  3. aray oh mera digg margya

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  4. With size comes all sorts of issues that you simply don’t expect when you’re small.

    Given the value of digg & the rampant changes they’ve been forced to make, and the “closed” way of moderating things…eg, they don’t generally come out & admit that they moderate stuff, same as any other community…it’s kind of like “mob justice” at this point.

    Disturbing, interesting, and amazing, all at the same time.

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  5. I <3 Digg. They’re having a rough patch. They’ll work through it. I think Kevin’s blog post is a great first step back onto the right track.

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    1. no
    2. yes
    3. no
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  6. i’m confident kevin rose just salvaged digg. although i question whether it would have really been killed. i’d imagine they’d rally on its side….. eventually.

    i mean where would the diggers go? netscape? hahahahhahahh

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  7. Conspiracy theory tip: this may have a relation with the Google – Viacom story. Google lawyers somehow should prove that user-generated content is unstoppable. And they need some example cases to show to the court. Otherwise, I can’t believe Kevin making such an explanation on their blog – not acceptable, this is definitely illegal, they should have stopped serving for a while.

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  8. Their site has been up and down for the last little while. Sounds like the extra traffic today is given them technical problems, and it’s not because they have taken the site down.

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  9. My take: it’s not a crisis and it’s not a setback at all. Digg properly responded to the original DMCA complaint so they are in the clear on that one. Now that the genie’s out of the bottle, any further action by them really wouldn’t do any good. So instead, they did the smart thing and took the side of the users which will effectively counter any temporary badwill they may have built up today. Furthermore, by positioning themselves as “willing to fight in court” over this, they are setting themselves up for another huge windfall of PR if and when it ever gets that far (it won’t).

    It’s a big net-positive in my book but I do agree that this will cause nose wrinkling by traditional media at social media, as you say.

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