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A new 'black market' service that allows advertisers to pay for influence on social networks has attracted criticism from the blogging community.

Subvert And Profit is quite upfront about its business model - advertisers pay $1 per vote on the Digg social news bookmarking site. Such activity can attract considerable attention for products and services.

The enterprise is trying to attract an army of Diggers to perform the votes on its behalf. It says it will pay $0.50 for each vote they make on an advertiser's behalf.

"We are a new kind of black market," the homepage admits.

"Violating Digg's terms of use is not illegal. Digg can, however, delete your account if you violate its terms of use. We encourage you to violate Digg's terms of use at your own risk."

Subvert And Profit is not the first service to offer to game social media ecosystems. A magazine feature last month lifted the lid on several techniques. But the new focus has brought more criticism to the door of the latest entrant.

Online marketer Blonde 2.0 said Subvert And Profit was "abusing the democracy of Web 2.0":

"It is one thing to promote a product you use, like, and think can be useful to your community. It is another thing to digg a story for a product you don't even know just to get hard cold cash."

Valleywag blogger Nick Douglas said the outfit is doomed to failure.

But the operatives behind Subvert And Profit are either unrepentant or taking an April Fool too far:

"While we are parasites, we do not wish to kill our hosts. Furthermore, the democracy of Web 2.0 is already hacked, rigged, and flawed enough for our impact to go unnoticed."


Published 3 April, 2007 by Robert Andrews

243 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Ragnar Danneskjold

Unfortunately for the bloggers who dislike us, negative press still helps us... we're already seeing users sign up in droves.

Also, Nick did not justify his position that we are doomed... it's just wishful thinking on his part. We have excellent anti-tracking algorithms that will prevent your activity from being tracked by Digg, among other things.

And yes, we are unrepentant. This simply is a market niche which we are filling.

- Ragnar, co-founder

over 9 years ago



With all due respect, what could Digg do to stop this? It would have to distinguish between normal users and users who are out to subvert and profit and that's one tricky algorithm...

I guess what Ragnar says is true; it probably can't be stopped. Regretfully, this will probably mean that either Digg dies a not very peaceful death or it will have to start policing everybody (which will probably have the same result). Has Digg made any comments about this yet?

over 9 years ago


Don Draper

All Digg has to do is have people sign up for the program, buy some Diggs, and them terminate everybody that votes for the story.

$1 a Digg is expensive, but not to someone like Digg. They spend a lot more than that trying to adjust algorithms.

A much better approach is to be productive and create a large network of friends to expand your footprint on Digg.

about 8 years ago

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