Massive Operation In Play To Game The Digg Site

Broadcatching

Oleoleolson
August 5, 2010

Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered

digg-logo-heart-lg1

A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site Digg.com have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

“The more liberal stories that were buried the better chance conservative stories have to get to the front page. I’ll continue to bury their submissions until they change their ways and become conservatives.”
-phoenixtx (aka vrayz)

Digg.com is the powerhouse of social media websites. It is ranked 50th among US websites by Alexa (117th in the world), by far the most influential social media site. It reached one million users in 2007 and likely has more than tripled that by this point. Digg generates around 25 million page views per month, over one third of the page views of the NY Times. Front page stories regularly overwhelm and temporarily shut down websites in a process called the “Digg Effect.”

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.

This model also made it very susceptible to external gaming whereby users from certain groups attempt to push their viewpoint or articles to the front page to give them traction. This was evident with the daily spamming of the upcoming Political section with white supremacist material from the British National Party (articles which rarely reached the front page). The inverse of this effect is more devastating however. Bury brigades could effectively remove stories from the upcoming sections by collectively burying them.

One bury brigade in particular is a conservative group that has become so organized and influential that they are able to bury over 90% of the articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours, regardless of subject material. Literally thousands of stories have already been artificially removed from Digg due to this group. When a story is buried, it is removed from the upcoming section (where it is usually at for ~24 hours) and cannot reach the front page, so by doing this, this one group is removing the ability of the community as a whole to judge the merits or interest of these stories on their own (in essence: censoring content). This group is known as the Digg “Patriots”.

Healthcare Reform: What a Week

Billy Tauzin, Broadcatching, GOP, Health Care Debate, Insurance Companies, Malkin, Pharma, Politics, Rick Scott, StephaStabClinton, Tea-Baggers, Town Halls
by mcjoan at D A I L Y  K O S

George_Takei

Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 07:16:03 AM PDT

These are times that try a progressive healthcare blogger’s soul. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a political establishment that looks at the fact that the Bush administration, led by Dick Cheney in every venal step, decided to start torturing people picked up in Afghanistan to amass false confessions about connections between bin Laden and Saddam so that they would have their “justification” for their war on choice, with nothing more than a yawn can report as straight across “news” that Sarah Palin thinks Obama is coming to kill her baby. But it still astounds that this is the new “normal.” Just unfathomable. And that’s what last week was.

The image that will be indelibly linked in my mind I saw in one of the reports on the Rachel Maddow show with video from a townhall meeting held by Rep. John Dingell, and referenced in gdunn’s diary. There’s a young, disabled woman (pictured in the diary), speaking to the group propped up by her crutches, trying to explain what she’s been through since her insurance company dropped her last year and her inability to get coverage now because of her “preexisting condition.” She’s trying to tell her story, and an older woman stands a few rows back from her and screams, her face distorted and ugly in it’s anger and ignorance and selfish extremism, “I shoudn’t have to pay for your health care.” And these are normal, patriotic, “concerned” citizens? The ones abusing disabled people, hanging people in effigy, destroying property, making death threats. (Oh, and also insurance and pharmaceutical industry shills and Republican operatives.) This is political discourse now, and Cokie Roberts says it’s the liberals’ fault. I guess she and Rahm Emanuel have that in common.

That’s the week we had.

Other stuff happened, too. The obscene amounts of money was in the news again. Hmmm, suppose there’s a link between the $1.4 million plus spent per day by industry trying to kill this and the townhall screamers?

Max Baucus set deadline number 578 for when he’d be done with his bill, September 15. Jon Kyl took his turn as the GOP concern troll to say that there’s no way. And to add to the bipartsan fun, Chuck Grassley, in an extreme display of Senate comity and decorum, used his colleague Ted Kennedy’s illness to lie about the proposed public option. So Democrats want to kill granny, Sarah Palin’s kid, and Ted Kennedy, for those of you keeping score at home.

Bipartisan negotiations in the Baucus committee seemingly continue unabated.

Billy Tauzin created a stir when he leaked a White House/Baucus deal with PhRMA that would have blocked proposals in the legislation to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion through price negotiations or rebates. Then it got confusing, with some Dem Senators saying that the White House told them there was no deal, while at the same time the White House was reaffirming it. The week ended with the White House backing out of a chunk of the deal, and with many Dems (those not named Baucus) with a bad taste in their mouths. The most disturbing aspect of this story is the extent to which the White House is using Baucus, knowing what we already know about what is going to be lacking in the Baucus plan: namely, a public option.

This week, the primary media story is likely to continue to be the townhalls, since they’ll make good copy. The behind the scenes story will be the fight for a real public option, and not some watered down co-op system. Stay tuned.

What's Not to Love About Having Our Healthcare Decisions Made by Insurance Company Accountants?

Big Pharma, Birthers, Blanche Lincoln, Charles Grassley, GOP, Health Care Lobbyists, Health Care Reform, Insurance Companies, Kent Conrad, Lynn Samuels, Max Baucus, Salon, Tom Tommorrow

hcttTOM TOMMORROW in Salon

The Newly Released Secret Laws of the Bush Administration

administration, Bush, Greenwald, Justice Department, laws, Military, Salon, secret
Tuesday March 3, 2009 06:31 EST

The newly released secret laws of the Bush administration

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

Reviewing yesterday’s front page of the print edition of The New York Times prompted this observation from Digby:

I looked at the front page of the paper this morning and wondered for a moment if I was looking at one of those historical documents about which scholars would wonder if those who read it in real time had a clue about the scale of what was happening.

There’s a run on the banks in Ukraine, the world’s biggest insurer suffered the highest quarterly losses in corporate history, Europe is starting to come apart — with Germany being the lead player. Major change seems to be rumbling in a bunch of different ways right now — with echoes of the past overlaid with things we’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s just a blip.  But maybe not.

Various universal perception biases always make it difficult to assess how genuinely consequential contemporary events are:  events in the present always seem more important than ones in the past; those that affect us directly appear more significant than those that are abstract, etc. (though powers of denial — e.g.: all of those bad things I’ve read about in history can’t happen to me and my country and my time — undercut those biases).  Whatever else is true, it seems undeniably clear, at the very least, that the extreme decay and instabilities left in the wake of the Bush presidency will alter many aspects of the social order in radical and irrevocable (albeit presently unknowable) ways.

One of the central facts that we, collectively, have not yet come to terms with is how extremist and radical were the people running the country for the last eight years.  That condition, by itself, made it virtually inevitable that the resulting damage would be severe and fundamental, even irreversible in some sense.  It’s just not possible to have a rotting, bloated, deeply corrupt and completely insular political ruling class — operating behind impenetrable walls of secrecy — and avoid the devastation that is now becoming so manifest.  It’s just a matter of basic cause and effect.

Yet those who have spent the last several years pointing out how unprecedentedly extremist and radical was our political leadership (and how meek and complicit were our other key institutions) were invariably dismissed as shrill hysterics.  As but one of countless highly illustrative examples, here is a November, 2004 David Broder column scoffing at the notion that there was anything radical or unusual taking place in the U.S., dismissively deriding the claim that there was anything resembling an erosion of basic checks and safeguards in the United States:

Bush won, but he will have to work within the system for whatever he gets. Checks and balances are still there. The nation does not face “another dark age,” unless you consider politics with all its tradeoffs and bargaining a black art.

That was (and still is) the prevailing attitude among our political and media elites:  it was those who were sounding alarm bells about the radicalism and damage of the Bush administration — not Bush officials themselves — who were the real radicals and, worst of all, were deeply Unserious.

* * * * *

Kicking Ass and Taking Names: Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald Call Bullshit on the White House Stenographers

Barack Obama, David Addington, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith, Glenn Greenwald, Illegal Wiretapping, Jane Hamsher, John Ashcroft, John Hannah, John Yoo, Justice Department, Rendition, State Secrets, The Atlantic, Torture, White House Stenographers

jandg

The Grand Dame of Blogs, Jane Hamsher and the Tough, Smart Glenn Greenwald Are Getting it Done

Access Journalism — Business As Usual?

By: Jane Hamsher Wednesday February 11
F I R E D O G L A K E

Glenn Greenwald has been rightfully indignant about the Obama DoJ’s use of Bush’s “state secrets” argument to cover up charges of rendition and torture.  The NY Times this morning says “It was as if last month’s inauguration had never occurred…..Voters have good reason to feel betrayed if they took Mr. Obama seriously on the campaign trail when he criticized the Bush administration’s tactic of stretching the state-secrets privilege to get lawsuits tossed out of court.”

But Bush’s “state secrets” claims aren’t the only White House holdovers. Glenn also singles out Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic today for being a DC stenographer whose idea of “reporting” is calling up administration sources, granting them anonymity without cause, and then writing it up mindlessly without critique or context:

What possible justification is there for granting administration officials anonymity to explain why they are embracing a Bush-era weapon that they have long criticized?  And why does an administration swearing great levels of transparency and accountability — and vowing to use secrecy only when absolutely necessary — need to hide behind a wall of anonymity in order to explain why they did what they did here?  Why can’t they attach their names to this explanation, so that they can be questioned about it and held accountable?

Why would he do that?  Well, possibly because that’s the only way they’ll talk to him — or anyone else.  New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston has also written about this “business as usual” quality of White House press relations:

My questions to LaBolt and Singh prompted a return phone call the next day from Nick Shapiro, who spelled his name, but had to be prodded several times to give his job title: assistant press secretary.

During our brief conversation, Shapiro, like LaBolt (whose name Shapiro did not recognize), started one sentence with “off the record.” Told that the journalist grants the privilege, and that none would be granted here, Shapiro expressed surprise. His surprise was double-barreled, at both the idea that the reporter issues any privilege and that any reporter would decline to talk “off the record.”

The reportorial practice of letting government officials speak without taking responsibility for their words has been an issue with the public and is being questioned now by some journalists, as shown by this article from Slate’s Jack Shafer.

Questions about whether Shapiro knows the difference between off-the-record, background, deep background, and on-the-record did not get asked, because Shapiro made it clear he had no interest in answering anything about how the Obama press secretary’s office is operating and what its tone will be. He said questions should be submitted in writing by e-mail to nshapiro@who.eop.gov. I sent Shapiro an e-mail outlining the contours of what would be covered in an interview, but have not received a response as of this writing, the following day.

Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter whose book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense [and Stick You with the Bill] is indispensible for anyone wanting to understand how the taxation and legislative system has been gamed to favor the rich.  He’s a superb journalist and sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s still employed at the Times(note:  Johnston has left the NYT.) An administration interested in transparency should be ecstatic about working with him.

But what is going on right now in the world of DC journalism finds its most naked expression in Ambinder’s piece, though I’ve seen other glaring examples of late — journalists are scrambling for who gets “access” to the White House.  So there’s no end to the bullshit they’ll write to ingratiate themselves to potential sources, or the inconvenient facts they’ll edit out in order to be the new Bob Woodward. (Though Ambinder does deserve some praise on this front — he wrote what everyone else knows but isn’t saying about White House plans:   “encouragement of moderate Democrats,” “entitlement reform” and “standing up to Speaker Pelosi.”)

You can see it in the horror with which the traditional media is responding to Sam Stein getting called on at the President’s press conference — there are rules, there is a pecking order, and This Is Not How It’s Done. While it’s great Sam got recognized — he’s a really good journalist and he asked a critical question — it’s not much more than “window dressing” if the day-to-day interaction with the press stays the same as it did during the Bush years.  And with Rahm managing the relations between the White House and the media these days, it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

Update: And the stenography continues: Ambinder calls back his “administration sources” so they can respond to Glenn but neither names him nor links to him.  “They’re sensitive to the politics of the case, but they’re not motivated by what civil libertarians may write on their blogs.”  The administration people don’t want you at the slumber party Glenn Greenwald, and they don’t give anonymous quotes to you, Glenn Greenwald, and they certainly aren’t going to RESPOND to you, Glenn Greenwald, well okay they DID and Ambinder just wrote PARAGRAPHS about it but they are going to just turn their backs and pretend you’re not there.  Feh.

This Just In: Obama Completely and Utterly Sells Out To Fear

Glen Greenwald, Salon

Glenn Greenwald in SALON

Obama adviser Greg Craig: adding insult to injury

In today’s New York Times, James Risen — who won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing Bush’s illegal NSA spying program — has an article on Obama supporters who are criticizing Obama for his FISA reversal and attempting to defeat the bill Obama supports. The article quotes Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas and myself and features the very innovative effort by Obama supporters to use his campaign’s social networking tools to urge Obama to oppose the FISA bill (more on that campaign here). For his article, Risen spoke with Obama adviser Greg Craig, a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly, and this is what Craig told Risen:

Greg Craig, a Washington lawyer who advises the Obama campaign, said Tuesday in an interview that Mr. Obama had decided to support the compromise FISA legislation only after concluding it was the best deal possible.

“This was a deliberative process, and not something that was shooting from the hip,” Mr. Craig said. “Obviously, there was an element of what’s possible here. But he concluded that with FISA expiring, that it was better to get a compromise than letting the law expire.”

Craig’s statement is flat-out false. FISA — enacted in 1978 and amended many times to accommodate modern communications technology — has no expiration date. The Protect America Act, which Congress enacted last August to legalize warrantless eavesdropping on Americas, had a 6-month sunset provision and thus already expired back in February, restoring FISA as the governing law. Thus, if Congress does nothing now, FISA will continue indefinitely to govern the Government’s power to spy on the communications of Americans. It doesn’t expire. What Craig said in defense of Obama is just wrong.

I emailed Craig this morning about his comments (here) and when I received no reply, I called him, left a message, and he called me this afternoon. After I read him his quote, explained that FISA won’t expire, and pointed out that his comment in the NYT therefore made no sense, Craig paused for awhile and then said that he meant that the “warrants under FISA would expire in August,” and Obama supported the FISA “compromise” to prevent that from happening. When I asked Craig if he was referring to the surveillance orders authorized by the Protect America Act that allow the Government to spy with no individual warrants (which have a one-year duration and do expire in August), Craig said that this is what he meant, and that Obama wanted to avoid having those surveillance orders expire.

While that last version at least generally comports with reality, it makes no sense whatsoever as an explanation for Obama’s FISA position. Back in August, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination, Obama voted against the Protect America Act. Therefore, had Obama had his way, there never would have been any PAA in the first place, and therefore, there never would have been any PAA orders possible. Having voted against the PAA last August, how can Obama now claim that he considers it important that the PAA orders not expire? How can he be eager to avoid the expiration of surveillance orders which he opposed authorizing in the first place?

I asked Craig that question several times and received completely incoherent replies, after which he started insisting that he already answered me and had nothing else to add (he then changed the subject to talk about the “improvements” the current bill achieves over the Rockefeller Senate bill). The fact is that there is no answer. In the past, Obama has opposed the type of warrantless eavesdropping which those PAA orders authorize. He’s repeatedly said that the FISA court works and there’s no need to authorize eavesdropping without individual warrants. None of that can be reconciled with his current claim that he supports this FISA “compromise” because National Security requires that those PAA orders not expire and that there be massive changes to FISA. It’s just as simple as that.

It’s bad enough that Obama is supporting a new warrantless eavesdropping scheme. They should just candidly admit that he changed his position rather than feeding incoherent and insultingly false rationalizations to the public — whereby they throw around the terms “National Security” and “balance” enough times and hope that nobody notices or cares that what they’re saying makes no sense. One of the strengths of the Obama campaign has been a willingness to have adult discussions about complex political issues, assume a fair amount rationality and intelligence on the part of the voting public, and avoid manipulative, obfuscating sloganeering like this. It’s just adding insult to injury to resort to nonsensical justifications of the type Craig put into the New York Times today.

Just to get a flavor for how fundamental a reversal is Obama’s FISA position, here is what Obama said back in February when accepting Chris Dodd’s endorsement:

We know it’s time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd’s candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.

The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I’ve been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens — and set an example to the world — that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America –- no one is above the law.

Here is what he said back in January:

Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people — not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed. . . .

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power — and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.

It’s time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come.

And obviously, his vow last October to “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies” can’t be reconciled with his vow to “support” such a bill now.

The issue is not — as one extremely confused Obama-cheering blogger put it — that Obama has done “something contrary to what conventional wisdom as dictated by a small coterie of prominent bloggers agrees with,” nor is it — as an equally confused, Obama-cheering Ed Kilgore put it — that Obama is “stray[ing] from Democratic Party orthodoxy or from strict down-the-line partisanship” by “expressing heretical thoughts on FISA” (incidentally, it’s amazing how the rule of law, the Fourth Amendment and accountability for Bush lawbreaking have now — in service of defending Obama — all been instantaneously reduced to nothing more than quirky, self-absorbed, petty blogger “dictates,” and Obama’s disregarding of those core political values is a bold demonstration that he won’t be held hostage to anyone’s narrow partisan demands).

The issue is that Obama has repeatedly, over the course of the last year, made emphatic commitments and clear statements about his core political values that are completely irreconcilable with his support for the FISA bill. It’s possible to recognize that someone is just a “politician” and still trust that they’re telling you essentially the truth about what they think and what they’ll do. One hard-core Obama supporter explains that here.

As I said, it’s bad enough that this is being done. Eventually, the sting of what Obama and Democrats generally have done will diminish somewhat for many people. But for those who have sat by watching the Bush administration and its followers exploit complexities over spying issues in order to issue one false claim after the next to justify his lawbreaking, having the Obama campaign issue factually false and/or incoherent explanations to justify Obama’s conduct only makes matters worse, not better.

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