The latest buzz on the blogosphere lately is the “revolt” (if you may call it that) of Digg users against what they considered to be a violation of the very nature of Digg itself. Here’s a brief recap via AP/NY Times and BBC News.
However, the Digg community, perhaps used to the notion of the community itself having the power to determine what happens to the entries (frontpaged, buried, or simply ignored), acted strongly against what they felt was censorship on the part of Digg. The community also took the HD-DVD Promotion Group‘s sponsorship of Digg’s DiggNation podcast as possibly the real reason behind the banning, and accused Digg of being a sell-out. Users then revolted by flooding the site with entries relating to the encryption key, which filled the front page. Some of these entries garnered record Diggs or votes, even (screencap here).
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, relented thereafter, and had this to say.
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.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
My take? For one, that sounds like a hint of sarcasm from Kevin Rose, particularly the last line. It’s as if his creation has more than started a life of his own (which was the original intent); it has grown into a monster. If I were in Mr. Rose’s shoes, I would probably have mixed feelings. One of pride, as Digg has grown so powerful it could no longer be controlled (or guided?), and one of worry that those who apparently control Digg (the crowd) might not be able to wield this newfound power with responsibility.
This is, after all, one of the drawbacks of social news and social media.
Then again, it seems like Kevin is washing his hands from whatever consequences to Digg that potential legal actions might bring in, at least to the users’ point of view. He has effectively laid the responsibility on the users’ hands, saying that it is the users’ decision to continue with posting about the encryption codes, and Digg management will no longer intervene. And in any case that there would be a “scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down,” Kevin could always just lay the blame on the users.
However, ultimately, who’s in control of Digg? And who will be accountable?
Minic Rivera over at 901am said Kevin Rose should realize that he no longer owns Digg. However, I think ultimately the ones who can pull the plug at will are still in control and are still ultimately accountable.