Thursday, December 11, 2008

Democratic Censorship and Thought Police

Many people believe our government is a democracy where we all have a vote. Well, no. We have one vote, to elect those among us we believe represent our values best and have that person act in our stead upon the matters of government. In other words, a Republic. Others, however are not enamored with this political model and wish to pursue a pure democratic enterprise in America. For most of us, the concept of a pure democracy sounds appealing - “my vote might actually matter” - but the good qualities of the system are quickly hampered by its negatives. Winston Churchill once said, “The strongest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter”.

We as American do not normally see the practices of pure democracy in action except for small forums like union meeting, committee meetings, public townhalls, and social media sites. Its the latter that has caught my attention as they have the ability to demonstrate the speed and power an organized bully pulpit can have on the censorship of free thought. Most of you reading this are more than likely familiar with the website Digg.com. It is by far one of the most popular social media site on the Internet. Yesterday, I submitted to Digg for discussion the following article;

There is NO Global Warming Crisis 

Within a few hours, it had become the most commented article in the Environment section of Digg. It also rose to the top 10 Upcoming stories and made number four on the Hot Topics list for Science and the Environment. It was possibly poised to reach the front page of Digg, reserved for only the most collectively interesting stories. But as fast as it was moving up, it suddenly disappeared from any Digg list. Effectively, it was removed as if it had never existed. It had been Buried. Digg has two features available to the democratic masses that prevail its site; you can DIGG a story or BURY it. At some point in time, the algorithm of justice and fairness built into the site decides that enough people have chosen to Bury the story and that is exactly what happens. It is a form of collective censorship. If you don’t like something, get rid of it, bury it.

Now, as the author of the previous story, I cannot blame Digg. They are not trying to be a government nor are they required to be fair, they are a business and in business to make money. What they do try to do is improve the fairness through the front page algorithm. Where my previous story got caught was with a simple process of discounting collective voting blocks. This means if you group together in like minded fashion to form a collective interest group (a party lets say), your votes in quick succession on an article submitted by a member of the group is discounted as artificial popularity. Digg demands diversity in the votes to show that one particular group is not trying to promote a theme that really has limited appeal among the people. Quite a nobel attempt at countering a detrimental side effect of pure democracy.

However, the same is not true with Burying an article. Many blog posts have expressed concern with what is called “Bury Brigades”.  A collective organization of people use the options in the choice to bury an article so that the algorithm is distorted to quickly censor information the group wishes hidden. The Digg algorithm is private so no one knows for sure the actual way it works, but the article from yesterday was obviously a casualty of this attack. What it points out is the power of Fascism to obscure the minds of the masses and allow the militaristic means of the controlling group to censor what would be considered an opposing view point. The article from yesterday was with out a doubt controversial. The comments alone showed the heated opinions on both sides. But in the end, a Bury Brigade had its will do.

What angers me so, is not a personal reason since I was the author, but the subject matter. It was an opposition piece to the idea of man made Global Warming. The proponents argue that the debate is over, that everyone agrees our climate problems are our fault. Well, that is obviously true when dissenting opinions are crushed and censored so that people can not be exposed to an alternate truth. As long as organizations like “Bury Brigades” can squelch the opposing commentary, topics like Global Warming will be lead by fascist regimes of like minded social media denizens, using their collective power to suppress open discussion in modern and traditional media. But having an authoritarian governmental organization (the IPCC) with substantial financial resources backing these pawns of the punditry, is truly terrifying for the future of free thought and our Republic.

With that I leave you with this:

“The press [media today] should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses”.

- Vladimir Lenin

8 comments:

MongerOfHate said...

Thanks, Mark, for what you did yesterday. I was one of those who were waist deep in the mud that was slung our way from the communistic environmentalists on your Digg story yesterday.

I, myself, got "buried" by the digg fascists twice in the last 10 days. It's scarry to realize that those who want our thoughts censored on digg are the same people who were in the 53% majority on Nov. 9.

You do a great job. Keep it up(while you still can).

Anonymous said...

How Game Their Own System

Just like their credit card donation website during the campaign...THEY HAVE TURNED OFF THE EMAIL VERIFICATION at Change.gov.

So use your imagination and come up with a fake name like FrutoBoyCrispilla@email.com and login. Or lots of fake names (y'know like ACORN did) and start having fun.

Game #1: Search for questions containing "Blagojevich" or "spoke to Illinois" and start Approving the questions...there are a lot of them.

Game #2: Search for questions containing "Bush" and watch page after page of questions about "holding them accountable for war crimes" load up. I would suggest these questions be FLAGGED AS INAPROPRIATE.

Have Fun!

kenny1948 said...

This will be interesting. I will see if you permit me to disagree with you, and post this.
Global Warming is a fact, whether you believe it is created by man or by some other cause. It is a FACT not a myth.

The problem with your blog, or any other is that you have your opinions. On the other hand, as site like DIGG, has to do with not just opinion but fact. You have just as much a right as any other user, to DIGG or Bury and submission. It's that simple. If your submission got buried, it was because the majority ruled. DIGG is a Democracy, not a Republic!

Biased Girl said...

Watch out they'll be after you again...

I can't wait until I write something good enough to get buried on Digg! ;)
I'd consider it a badge of honor.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see how misinformed you are. You typed:

"We have one vote, to elect those among us we believe represent our values best and have that person act in our stead upon the matters of government. In other words, a Republic."

Actually no. Thats not what a republic is. What you describe is a representative democracy. A republic, which is what the USA is actually set up as, is rather that the constitution has protections againt the democratic majority to take away rights from minorities (ethnic, religious, gun owners, etc) just by some person with a bully pulpit saying so.

You are correct to say that its bad for the masses to decide when they can so easily be misdirected by people with good manipulation skills (either good talking, or lots of money to put ads on).

But you're confused about what you really want, you seem to want "true" democracy, but at the same time lament that the masses would vote your ideas down for being impopular.

I'd rather say you should brush up on your political science.


Oh, and on your global warming story, its dishonest of you to say you really want to just discuss the topic. Your political arguments on this site reveal that you rather have a political agenda to blame global warming on anything but humans. If you were honest you would examine the evidence with an open mind and accept a change of mind when that evidence shows that you're wrong. Instead you've effectively resorted to the "teacher hates me" argument to explain why you got bounced instead of just not having done your homework.

Mark Wells said...

Kenny, here let me help you out. EVERYONE, including me agrees there is global warming and climate change. But that is no different than saying the sky is blue. the question at hand is it natural or man made. not that it doesn't exist. this is the fallacy the 'believer' use to belittle the 'deniers'.

secondly the point with this article was that although digg has gone to great lengths to make sure there is some semblance of fairness in the DIGGING, the same is not true for the BURYING and that is where the Bury Brigades come in to eliminate discussion. Articles with 1,600 diggs have been buried with only 300 Buries. that is the problem.

Mark Wells said...

Well annon,let me put it this way. American has its own version of a republic more accurately called a democratic republic. The big difference being we let all people vote and participate not just land owners.

But your description is ... different.

if you read the article especially the comment from Churchill you should have gotten the point that a pure democracy is not what I want and that social media sites like digg give a semblance of what a pure democracy would be like, and that is not good.

As for Global warming, I have examined the evidence which is why i speak out against the man made reasoning. As I said in another comment, saying there is global warming is like saying the sky's blue. well duh.

Scott said...

I respect your bringing to light the idea of democratic censorship but I have to strongly disagree when you call it fascism. In America everything except the constitution can be morally changed by a democratic vote. It is when civil rights are challenged by the majority that democratic bullying becomes unacceptable. Sorry for your article but you have to expect that the over liberal side of digg buries anything they think spreads false truth. I try to find a balance between the two ideals where real undistorted truth lies, and not the bs that you and the kos provide.