There's been a tremendous uproar in the social media world since AlterNet published a story accusing a group of influential social media users of actively engaging in political "censorship" on Digg.com, the popular social news network.
Digg launched in 2004 based on a simple premise: users would submit stories to the site, and they would be voted up ("dugg") or down ("buried") by the people. The most popular stories would make Digg's front page, which boasts 25 million pageviews per month, on par with a large mainstream media site.
But Digg's online democracy isn't utopian, it's messy. Ole Ole Olsen, the author
of the Alternet post, accused a group of influential diggers of collectively
engaging in political warfare. He accused a right-leaning group of carrying out "a widespread campaign of
censorship" largely through cheating, i.e. "having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately
trying to ban progressives." AlterNet further claimed the group --
dubbed "Digg Patriots" -- work to repress articles
"even slightly critical of the GOP/Tea Party/FoxNews/corporations."
Digg's founder Kevin Rose announced via Twitter that the company would be investigating these claims. While it might seem that gaming the Digg system goes against the democratic ethos of the site, this kind of interest group lobbying and activism is pretty much exactly how politics works. It might be online and algorithmically aided but it's still politics.