Using Digg to game the stock market

In yesterday’s show #120 of FIR: The Hobson & Holtz Report podcast, Shel and I talked about the teenager who gamed Google News with a fake press release.

That pales in comparison to this story from VNU’s Silicon Valley Sleuth today which, if true, is far more alarming:

Something extremely weird is going on over on Today for the third time in a short period, a story got promoted to the front page where a blogger raises a baseless rumour about Google buying Sun. And as is explained further down, it appears that this is the result of a coordinated effort to fool Digg into promoting the story. The blog author has no sources, zero credibility and most importantly his reasoning is completely erratic.

Threadwatch dissects events a little more and concludes:

Spreading rumors and news to drive up the stock prices is nothing new. Using internet “news” and “citizen journalist” sites like Digg to do it is. We all know that viral and buzz marketing is an important factor in today’s market. Have “white collar spammers” recognized this, and [are] now begining to act on it?

That’s a very good question.

Caveat: don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers online.

[Update 18 March] Over at Business Week’s Blogspotting, Heather Green says that Digg has a number of protective measures in place that thwart people trying to game their system.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Tom Keefe


    I just came across this discussion thread on the SitePoint site that discusses Digg’s policy of blacklisting anyone caught trying to generate a higher Digg listing. The interesting thing is, if the blacklisted person had linked to other sites, those sites can be blacklisted as well–even though they did not participate in the attempted scam.

    Read all the posts, and you may have something decent to share with your audience. And thanks for the terrific job you do with this blog and FIR.


  2. neville

    Thanks for that pointer, Tom, and your warm words.

    Quite an interesting discussion over there. It’s a tricky one. You could say that Digg has the right to run their service as they see fit. Blacklisting third-party sites may not be the best thing to do, though, as part of that right. Don’t see anywhere what Digg themselves have to say, just lots of bloggers talking about it.

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