Social Site Under Fire – Changes Policies as a Result

In a test of how powerful internet users are on social networking and media sites, rising social media site has learned the hard way that their site is run by the users and for the users.

A recent cease and desist order caused Digg moderators to remove all posts containing a secret encryption key hack that would allow anyone to copy HD-DVD’s, something the entertainment industry does not want to see happen.  While Digg did not receive a notice directly, they felt it was in their best interest to squash all posts containing the encryption key, as evidenced by the founder of Digg, Kevin Rose’s comments at 1pm yesterday:

This has all come up in the past 24 hours, mostly connected to the HD-DVD hack that has been circulating online, having been posted to Digg as well as numerous other popular news and information websites. We’ve been notified by the owners of this intellectual property that they believe the posting of the encryption key infringes their intellectual property rights. In order to respect these rights and to comply with the law, we have removed postings of the key that have been brought to our attention.

Whether you agree or disagree with the policies of the intellectual property holders and consortiums, in order for Digg to survive, it must abide by the law. Digg’s Terms of Use, and the terms of use of most popular sites, are required by law to include policies against the infringement of intellectual property. This helps protect Digg from claims of infringement and being shut down due to the posting of infringing material by others.

Our goal is always to maintain a purely democratic system for the submission and sharing of information – and we want Digg to continue to be a great resource for finding the best content. However, in order for that to happen, we all need to work together to protect Digg from exposure to lawsuits that could very quickly shut us down.

Dig’s users

This is really where the power of Digg’s users comes into play.  Not long after this post, Digg members begin flooding the site with random submissions containing the HD-DVD hack key.  It wasn’t isolated to just the technology categories even – the entire site was slowed to a crawl and new posts were delayed significantly due to the overwhelming chaos that moderating Digg posts had caused.

Digg users quickly “dugg” all of the posts w/ the encryption key in order to get them on the front page of and it worked very well.  At one point, every story on the homepage was about the HD-DVD hack – either a post containing the hack itself, a post bashing Digg for removing posts, or other related posts.

By 9pm the Digg management team had changed their stance on the censorship and issued the following statement:

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

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.


The actions by Digg yesterday highlight the power that we, as web users posess.  Digg member’s posts and comments literally changed the moderation policies and legal standings of one of the web’s hottest social media websites.