The Power of the Masses – The Digg Bomb

A friend of mine recently told me that web 2.0 is all about herd mentality, the power of the mob. I think he was right.

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.” Digg Founder, Kevin Rose.

Kevin Rose was compelled to issue that statement after a massive Digg Bomb. In a nutshell, someone discovered a 16 digit number that is used to lock HD-DVD movies and prevent piracy. Digg administration decided to pull all stories containing that number because the body controlling the tecnology underlying HD-DVD anti-copying technology issued them with a legal threat. Digg users revolted at this and made sure that all the top ten stories on the Digg homepage contained the number. After this had gone on for while, Kevin Rose posted his post on the Digg blog. Kevin’s post also contained the number. That sure was brave because now Digg will probably be sued. That would be pointless because the number is very widely available.

This created quite a storm. Personally, I hate Digg users’ immaturity – this started quite well but turned out to be spam. Beyond spam, actually – we can all copy and paste! Here are some selected comments from here:

“OK, think about this, if digg get’s sued, the real life owners of the site will pay. You cowards posting the key, grow some balls and post your name and address with it. I BET you won’t. Why? Because you don’t want to get sued. I finally know how many 13 year olds are using digg.”

“You should All know that a number CANNOT be copyrighted nor possesed. That’s why they can’t sue us.”

“You got part of it right. They should take it down. But not because it’s against the law. Not because it’s copywrited (you can’t copywrite a number). That’s like me copywriting 28 and saying it’s my intellectual property. Many people are just having fun, but many of us believe that Digg handled the situation bad. They banned accounts, deleted stories, and then said they did it because of blah. If they just deleted the stories and said they were with us and just didn’t want to be the ones to fight the battle legally that’s one thing. Doom9 still has the original story from February where the hacker got the number through legal means… no hacking involved. By the way, I’m not sure how you can even believe it’s against the law. Yes, it might bring a frivolous lawsuit. That’s what DRM companies are for, but it isn’t copywrited etc.”

“This is how it’s against the law: DMCA – [ Digital Millennium Copyright Act ] Passed in 1998, the DMCA is a bill designed to bring copyright law up to date with digital media. Among other things,it outlaws the manufacture of, or “trafficking” in, technologies capable of circumventing “technical protection measures” used to restrict access to copyrighted works”

“My 2 cents. Enough with the new posts and topics about the HD-DVD key. I know it’s about socking it to the man and the freedom of information, but the HD-DVD bandwagon has left without you and is not turning around. I guarantee 95% of the people who posted the code lack the technical knowledge to actually make use of the sequence, let alone, create an application worth downloading. Just be patient and a solution for playing HD-DVD’s on Linux and non-compatible HDCP displays will be here shortly from the people who are capable of creating such software and more importantly extracting the key themselves. Bitches.”

“That is the whole point. We are not capable of doing anything with the number other than writing it down and putting it on t-shirts. Which is why it is so stupid that anyone would try to block it being posted. The people who can do something with it already have it and asking Digg to remove it isn’t going to help, which is why they shouldn’t, and now won’t.”

“So you think by placing Digg in a position where they could be sued is fair, as long as you have your freedom of speech? This is the internet, not a country.”

Additional Resources


  1. I agree that Digg users tend to be immature, but that’s inevitable on a ‘social’ website. The loudest ones are not the most intelligent. I always sort comments by the most diggs, and get good info that way. It’s sad if this type of immaturity takes Digg down, I’ve found lots of good articles there.

    As far as the HD-DVD key going around, that is also inevitable. If a visionary like Steve Jobs thinks Digital Rights Management is a waste of time, then it’s only lawyers that benefit from this whole mess. Entertainment companies should use their lawyer money to get into the 21st Century instead of treating consumers like criminals.

  2. kayliz says:

    Yeah I agree with you. It would be a shame if we lost Digg because of this or something like it.
    Nice link. I like Steve Jobs, lol.

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