What the Numerous Digg Bans Can Teach Us about Social Media (Companies)

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cc: All artworks by M Domondon.

Digg, formerly known as user driven social news has shown its true nature in 2008: Banning some of their most valuable and active users. They did not solely ban the spammers or those who harm Digg, they banned some of the best social media users along with hundreds of others who contributed diligently.

Last time, when zaibatsu, Digg top user #3 was banned for a reason that “barely” made sense I ridiculed the steps undertaken by Digg. This time I’m here to analyze. I still think they’re ridiculous and rather make sense in a sabotage kind of way where the worth of Digg is artificially lowered for the acquisition price to drop.

I’m not here to analyze the bizarre Digg “Microsoft or Google buy me” business model.

My focus is on the users, those real people who spent hours daily, some for years, working for free for a self proclaimed democratic platform.

As a former media activist involved in antiwar campaigns both off and online I was wary of the “pseudo-democratic” late comer Digg from day one. There had been attempts to establish truly democratic and participative media on the Web at least 6 years before Digg and Digg was a step back as it just recycled other news sources instead of giving people a voice.

The only way of gaining a voice via Digg was publishing elsewhere and getting it submitted to Digg.

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OK, so let’s return to people like zaibatsu or my virtual idol tamar who were both very successful on Digg in a very positive manner and now lost all of their work there.

These two luckily only have lost their profiles and their power to push something on Digg directly. They did not lose their authority though. Both zaibatsu and tamar managed to survive this unfortunate turn. They can’t be particularly happy but they’re still alive and kicking on social media.

Social media being many media not just one social medium like Digg is exactly the point.

Socializing throughout several platforms and being interconnected is key. Also a virtual real estate and branding are key. Like I wrote last week tamar is well known from several publications. Zaibatsu is a contributor to a social media podcast at least (only recently or already before? I rarely listen to podcasts) and a Ning community.

Problogger recently described the concept of the home base and the outposts.

You need a homebase and several outposts.

Like in military strategy, losing an outpost is not that bad if you have enough of them. Losing the homebase is more of an disaster. Some of the users banned are only known to be active on Digg, supernova17, one of the legendary Digg users and current #5 has been banned too. I have never seen him using this name elsewhere. So he probaly lost his homebase!

Also some of the less known but still quite active users have lost more than just an outpost of many. Some of them probably were mainly active on Digg, some of them used Digg as the sole source of social media reputation, traffic and just plainly community.

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What do these people do? Just switch over top Mixx and start from 0 again? I’m not sure if this is the best way to go on. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried Mixx and I’m a “super mixxer” since then there. I’ve left after two years as well when they reprimanded me for confronting a racist bully.

I’m mainly active on

but I have secondary social media “real estate” at

That’s not all though. I’m known throughout social media, not just via these sites:

People know me.

I’m connected to “my people” on several platforms and services so the demise of one social service can’t faze me. This is not a post solely about “not putting all eggs in one basket” though. This is a reality check:

No platform run by a conventional company aiming at profits will ever be democratic.

Corporations are top down organizations where the unorganized workers have no direct power. Consumers can at least stop consuming and boycott. Social media users are both producers and consumers but they lack the powers of both.

There is no real Digg users lobby, pressure group or union, people won’t just boycott Digg due to some people being banned.

So you are in no way able to protect your rights against a company like Digg. You can’t even sue them for real as you probably agreed to something like “termination of service at any time”.

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So don’t mix up the ends with the means, social media tools are not the message. You don’t get angry at your hammer or screwdriver either for letting you down.

What’s the outcome of this article? A simple advice: Don’t become your own grave digger, build a stable homebase instead.

Last updated: September 26th, 2010.

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