Digg HD-DVD Censorship Fiasco

Digg HD-DVD FiascoIf you don’t live your life in the Blogosphere or on Digg – and why should you? – you’ll have missed out on many knickers getting in a twist.

It all started off about the posting on Digg of an encryption key for HD-DVD that is intrinsic to the security of HD-DVD content.

Next major thing – many alleged that the administrators of Digg were removing posts about this key and the growing number of anti-digg comments that were littering the system.

Some claimed that an industry body associated with HD-DVD had given large quantities of money to the founders of Digg to start their Diggnation Webcast, hence a significant conflict of interest.

Digg HD-DVD FiascoEventually Digg founder, Kevin Rose, posted to say that they’d stop censoring postings, saying that they’d “go down fighting.” Many commented that Digg went down long ago.

It’s not just Digg that has been touched by this. Wikipedia is report to have been deleting pages containing the key too, but while leaving the information available at the same time (whoops!).

We didn’t bother you with it dear reader, as we thought you wouldn’t be that interested, but as it now touches the very heart of what being open and online is all about, we though it was worth a mention.

An excellent comment on the situation was posted by someone on Slashdot, that was then re-posted by oneman army on Digg. We think it sums up the situation so well, we couldn’t possibly say it better ourselves.

While they can do what they want on their own site, it is more a matter of credibility than anything else right now. The whole revolt isn’t even about the HD-DVD key. What has people feeling burnt is the fact that Digg purports to be about free and open user-driven content in a democratic setting, and what we’re seeing here is a cabal of admins who are subverting the entire process of the system to suit their own whims.

Now as I said, it’s not even about the 128-bit key anymore. And it’s not about the DMCA or its merits(or lack thereof). The problem goes much deeper than that, and the encryption key debacle was more of a catalyst for what the more perceptive Diggers knew was going on all along but never really had any proof of. See, it’s not just any posts containing the number they’re removing. The Digg admins are removing and banning any discussion on the topic, even legitimate discussions on the ramifications of censorship in the user-driven internet era. Quite a few legitimate and thought-provoking discussions got clobbered when the admins got ban-happy today.

Digg HD-DVD Fiasco

They have unwittingly set themselves up as a prime example of what can go wrong when marketing dollars(it is being reported that the HD-DVD guys throw ad dollars at Diggnation) meet the voice of the people. It is now being said that the Digg admins are stepping in and removing “objectionable” content when it conflicts with the will of their advertisers or displays any anti-Digg sentiment. While I’m sure this is good business sense, it’s a very ugly way of being outed as a shill and a fraud to your readers. Digg is supposed to be the underdog who fought the status-quo and beat overwhelming odds against “the system”. Now people are finding out that Digg has become the system, and they’re a bit disillusioned that their hero Mr. Rose is just like any other business man who is out to make a buck. But like I said, the admins of Digg are obviously free to do with their site as they see fit. But Digg is only as good as the people who contribute to it. Kiss them good-bye and you kiss Digg good-bye.

It’s now interesting to see that Digg isn’t displaying any of the stories like this one, with over 10,000 Diggs on their ‘top stories’, so it looks like the censorship continues unabated.

An ample illustration of the fragility of any company or Web service in the world of the Internet.