Social News is Dead

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Culture, Politics, Technology

I’ve been progressively getting fed up with social news sites over the past few months. It started when Digg 3.0 rolled out and a whole slew of non-tech related news starting coming to the front page of Digg, and it’s only gotten worse over time.

Since I primarily see these social news websites via PopURLs.com, I’ve noticed a similar decline in quality amongst most of the social news sites. A few days ago I came across this post by Arve Bervendsen summing up his reasons for abandoning one of the other popular social news sites, reddit.com:

* Politics. Yes, I know this is election year in the U.S. No, I don’t care. I’m not American, and I don’t care which republican or demcratic candidate performs voter fraud, lies, cheats or messes with Diebold voting machines.
* Religion. I just don’t care. See politics, and add to it that I think Richard Dawkins is just as evangelical as Ted Haggard.
* Gay sex. See politics and religion.
* Drugs. Not of interest. See politics, religion and gay sex.
* Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. See politics, religion, gay sex and drugs
* Self promoters. See all of the above, since most of them are already linkjacked reposts of the categories I’ve already chosen to kill. In addition, they’re reposts of utterly unfunny youtube videos, bad financial advice and health scams. Or posted by people pretending to be programmers.
* Karma whores. See all of the above, plus their lame ass-polls.

Even YouTube has fallen prey to this problem. Two of the videos currently featured on PopURLs are overtly political, one of them being a speech of Howard Dean and another is some boy’s opinion on the election. The latter, in particular, has 77,000 views, which is a clear indication that the only reason his story is popular is because of a system of automated viewing scripts manipulating his viewing ratings on YouTube. This is a new technique that’s gained popularity over the past few days, when an expose revealed that many of the celebrities who seek to promote themselves on YouTube have hundreds of dummy accounts that auto-refresh their videos to increase their overall views, or to post automated comments to get their videos on the lists of “Most Talked About” videos.

I’d like to think that all of this political garbage will at least blow over by tomorrow, but if the “If we didn’t win, you cheated” contingent has their say (and they will, no doubt), we’re just seeing the beginning of the nonsense.

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