The New Economy of Digg Blackmail

Let me paint the picture for you. You spent the last 8 hours perfecting a killer linkbait. You’re proud of your work. You think it’s going to do well on Digg, it collects some votes…

…a few hours later, you receive an email from someone claiming that he’ll get your account deleted and your article removed from Digg if you don’t pay him $1000.

Well, not having $1000 to spend, and not believing for a second that this is for real, you ignore it…

…and then bang, your story’s gone, your account has been deleted.

Welcome to the brave new world of Digg blackmail. Where sophisticated online users earn a living by abusing the Digg abuse reporting system. It’ a reality. I’d heard about it, but I’ve now seen it happen…and you should prepare for it to happen to you too.

So, you want to try your hand at Digg blackmail?

Here’s how you do it.

Step one, monitor the lower portion of the right hand column of this URL:

Step two, for each story, visit the link, and then find a contact e-mail.

Step three, construct and send the message from an account that won’t give away your identity: “Hi. I notice that you have an article that’s doing well at Digg. I have the ability to get your article removed from Digg and would like you to pay me X dollars to help your article make the front page, rather than get it removed. Please let me know if you’re interested.”

Step four, if the person responds within [define your limit, e.g. 1 hour], then good. If not, then A) Put your bury brigade network into action and B) Contact Digg at the following email address: [email protected] with a message like the following: “Hi. The people behind this article are using email spam to get dugg. I received a copy of this spam, which you can see below:”

Why it works

Digg blackmail works because Digg’s abuse team has it’s finger on the trigger. It’s sort of like the modern prison system, or Guantanamo Bay… penalize as many candidate abusers as possible, and even if you’re accuracy rate is below 10%, you’re still improving the quality of the product (in one case Digg, in the other case society).

Whether you agree with Digg’s abuse policies or not does not matter. What matters is that people are now making money through Digg blackmail. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, and I’ll be interested to see what Digg does about it.

21 thoughts on “The New Economy of Digg Blackmail

  1. The money transfer works on the same principles as the blackmail for site domains that miss renewal. And that one is no BS. 20 well-Digg’d articles that weren’t touched is hardly enough of a sample size to determine whether this is “real” or not by virtue of it happening to onself.

    I predict that Digg will do… nothing for a while. After all, what can they do? Judging whether site content is legit or not may not be something they want to engage upon. Unless this becomes a rampant problem or, say, starts to affect sites they know are legitimate–which is unlikely, because any blackmailer worth their salt won’t pick on BoingBoing or Slashdot–this is unlikely to be worth their time and effort.

    This is a rather interesting event, and arguably inevitable. Digg is unique among the site-gathering services because the voting/promotion system allows for suppression–which is why Digg mobs can work so well negatively (and also positively; false Diggs are not uncommon). Marrying that with blackmailing was just a matter of time.

    Disgusts me, but such is life.

    Arachne Jericho

  2. This is too pathetic to even talk about.
    Like I’d give a **** if my article would disappear from Digg traffic is completely useless anyway. These visitors don’t ever tend to come back, won’t subscribe to your feeds and DEFINITELY won’t click on any of your ads.

    Therefore, if this would ever happen to me I’d publically ridicule the idiot who tried this tactic on me in an amusing new article on my blog. Is there really anyone here who cares about this and / or would give in to this ‘blackmail’ ?

    I find this highly amusing to be honest 😉

  3. LOL – That’s pretty awesome. Reminds me of the Russians who were blackmailing the casino folks except this is truly more evil.

    I’d hate to be the person this happened to but I was banned from Digg many months ago anyhow.


  4. DarkUFO: that’s hardly proof against some new trend starting, is it? If someone just STARTS doing something that no one has ever seen before, then no one has seen it before. Kind of obvious.

    And whether you think it’s BS or not, accusing Ryan of spamming is kind of harsh. What purpose would there be to him “spamming anyone with the article”?

  5. Sorry but I think this is BS.

    I’ve had 20+ stories dugg and have never seen this, and I know 2 of the people who are in the top 100 diggers and they have never seen this.

    Did you spam anyone with the article?

  6. > “What matters is that people are now making money through Digg blackmail.”

    I am only wondering if there is real blackmail evidence which would be a legal case from my point of view. In the USA blackmail is prosecuted by federal agencies right?


    > “How do the blackmailers get paid?”

    Do some research for ‘money transfer’. Anonymous money transfer from a sender to a ‘authentication code number’ is possible as far as I know.

  7. How do the blackmailers get paid? Through their anonymously named/email-addressed Paypal button? Check or money order payable to Any Blackmailer @ PO Box Such & Such? Tell me it’s that easy and why you can’t get caught and hell, I’ll do it, too.

  8. Wow. That’s insane. What’s even crazier is that this post made the front page without getting buried!

  9. Figures. What some slime balls won’t do to make a buck. I do like your post though. It appeals to my sense of humor.

  10. I’d be interested to know if anyone else had this happen or if Ryan’s case is the start of something new.

  11. Wouldn’t you expect these all-powerful “savvy digg users” to quash your expose’ on their blackmail methods?

  12. That just absolutely blows me away. I will be very interesting to see how Digg, and other competitors handle such issues. :$

  13. “That sounds like some story from Afghanistan. A new weapon of mass destruction being developed at digg?”

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