The Digg Patriots Investigation: How We Exposed DiggGate
By Guest Columnist
NEWS JUNKIE POSTOct 19, 2010 at 10:45 am
By Sam Pennington
In early August, the story of an organized underground extremist right-wing censorship brigade calling themselves “Digg Patriots” (DP) was released and made international news. Since the initial article, members of the Digg Patriots group have tried to both vilify us for having their “private correspondence” in our possession, and at the same time, claim that the excerpts published were taken out of context, and if people saw the threads of conversations in full, it would “prove their innocence”.
Apparently they had assumed, (and possibly hoped), that we had nothing more than the previously published excerpts, and claimed that we withheld publishing the posts in full, because it would prove they were innocent. At the same time, they threatened us – telling us we better not publish more, and claiming that they were private emails (which they aren’t).
They have stated that Digg Patriots were not a “Bury Brigade”, and that the purpose of their private and secretive group was simply for social chit-chat among “like-minded individuals”, and that any allegations of them making “Bury calls” were exaggerated, if not entirely untrue. We eventually concluded that the only way to resolve this is to let readers decide for themselves, which would mean publishing virtually all of the relevant posts in full that were retrieved from the Yahoo Groups forum they used as the primary method for their communications.
First – let us explain some background on these communications, and how we gained access to them.
Digg Patriots Yahoo Group Forum Posts are not “private emails” nor “stolen”
Let us clarify that these communications were forwarded from email notifications of posts to the Yahoo Group – they are not private emails in any way. Everything posted by any of the members of the Digg Patriots to the DiggPatriots Yahoo Groups forum was knowingly distributed to all of it’s members, the majority of which were admitted as “not really being known” by the other members. There are no legal barriers to these posts being shared whatsoever – nonetheless, we have taken over 2 months to carefully consider where to draw moral boundaries in releasing further information in any large amount, including redacting email addresses, and personal and non-relevant private information.
The communications were voluntarily forwarded to us by one or more individuals (who will not be disclosed for obvious reasons), who were members of the DiggPatriots Yahoo Group. They had been having strong personal reservations about some of the things that were discussed there for some time, and about the behavior of some of the other members – including some attacks launched on other users of the Digg service, which they felt went beyond what they deemed acceptable. However, they chose to remain silent at that point.
One of these people then came across some extremely disturbing findings about the “Digg Patriots” member calling himself CaptCarrot on Digg, who goes by the name of R.J. Carter. (A name he also uses to publish his own articles and stories as well).
It was found that “R.J. Carter” was also a member of a severely depraved cyber harassment/cyber-terrorist ring calling itself The Yahweh Clan. This is an organized group that takes cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and brutal harassment to a whole new perverse and criminal level. At this discovery, the individual shared information about the Digg Patriots group to someone already looking into the Yahweh Clan situation, and was eventually disseminated to a couple of the Digg users who were favorite targets of the “Digg Patriots”. Further information and intelligence on R.J. Carter and his connections to the Yahweh Clan was requested and received from a group on the YouTube service called YTV, who were involved in an active investigation of both.
YTV – YouTube Vigilantes/Volunteers, (http://www.youtube.com/YTVigilantes and http://www.youtube.com/YTVhome), is a volunteer group founded by teachers, a social worker, a med student, and those with former police training and investigative experience, which was formed to deal with the unchecked and rampant harassment occurring on the YouTube service and elsewhere. YTV has published numerous videos, and supplied documentation of the activities of The Yahweh Clan over the past few years, and has been working with numerous organizations, FBI, and law enforcement to get legal action taken against this group and its members. YTV was not directly involved in the Digg Patriots investigation, which itself was launched by the initial investigative team.
Information on R.J. Carter’s connection to The Yahweh Clan, and details of their gut wrenching and sickening harassment targeting numerous innocent individuals including children, was published in a previous article here. Threats and attempts to intimidate us and any website hosting this information were soon received from “R.J. Carter”, demanding its removal –apparently believing that if he paid a legal office to pen a letter, it would be effective as a scare tactic. This publication, in response, published a followup article here about this.
A video was produced to further show R.J. Carter’s full and active connection to The Yahweh Clan and his personal participation in harassment, which is now posted here.
“…as Digg has now been made aware of this submission, any action other than the immediate removal of the article from Digg will be seen as affirmation of its content.”
– R.J. Carter in an apparent attempt to intimidate Digg into removing the article about him [source]
Does this mean Digg affirms the content of the article about him? According to R.J. Carter, it does.
NoTruePatriot.org – Full Evidence Database Released
After coverage by worldwide news and media, there have been ongoing requests from them and others to show further proof of the activities of Digg Patriots, even demands were made to do so by the DP themselves. It has been probably the top request we have gotten from all parties involved. In response to this, full evidence gathered in the Digg Patriots investigation has now been released to the public. Over 11 months of activity, over 13,000 posts, all now publicly available at the dedicated site www.NoTruePatriot.org.
Also read the full story here.
“Digg’s Lack of Action Means We Are Innocent!”
This is the most imbecilic “defense” of them all. As far as Digg staff goes, the last public response from the CEO of Digg was that they were looking into the matter. Nowhere did anyone at Digg exonerate any of the Digg Patriots, or any activities they were part of in attempts to game the system – far from it. There are a lot of complex reasons why a mass of people aren’t suspended from the service, including the availability of full evidence (which is now available), anmd the resources and time to actually do an investigation. The Bury button was removed, Digg probably felt no more response was needed, or has not had the time to complete their investigation into the issue. The day Digg says that Digg Patriots “did nothing wrong”, they are free to quote it and point it out. Until then, claims that Digg somehow has exonerated them because they “aren’t suspended”, are unbelievably foolish.
Digg staff aside, this is not only about Digg rules. This is about what was done to the public at large, on Digg and various other services. Contrary to what Digg Patriots like to claim, the public interest is immense – as shown by the overwhelming response and over 12,000 Diggs, making it one of the Top Stories of all time, adding to that the massive attention from worldwide media. We think that is solid evidence that the people do care. To not respond to interest this intense would be senseless. This is done due to overwhelming response, not to gain attention for one or two Digg users who authored the original story. It also goes beyond conservative vs. liberal.
Attempts at Intimidation
You would think for a group who is trying to claim their own innocence, and cast guilt on those who exposed their actions, they certainly would not follow in the footsteps of R.J. Carter (CaptCarrot), and attempt to hurl threats at various websites, demanding the removal of things that they don’t like said about them, (as R.J. Carter tried to do to here). Sadly, this didn’t seem to dissuade them from actually trying this with another social networking site, Mixx. (www.mixx.com), where the latest exposure article was also submitted. How gullible must one think these sites and publications are for one to try to slyly intimidate them with statements like “you better take that content down or else you might get caught up in legal action! Just a friendly warning! [insert wink]”. One has to wonder if they requested additional copies of “R.J. Carter’s” much recycled cease and desist letter thinking it would help it along. It is truly mind numbing to see these people continue to engage in censorship games, to try to censor information – which shows how they were engaging in organized censorship games. Nonetheless, Mixx would have none of it:
“This submission was reported using the threat of a lawsuit to have it removed. Apparently there must be some truth to this after all. Since the article only talks about the incident,which in fact happened and the names of the guilty parties have been removed, there should be no reason that this article should be pulled as it is news that can directly affect all of us and our social media experience.
It is valid news [...] it serves as a warning as to what some folks may be doing. If there weren’t some truth to it, there wouldn’t be an effort to have it censored.
It seems to me that if this submission gets removed, it lends even more credence to the very censorship and limitation of information these “patriots” are allegedly trying to impose.”
– JeffK (Mixx.com) [source]
Allegations of “Hacking”
In the most current attempt to turn any blame they can grasp at on the people who exposed them, members of Digg Patriots are now claiming that a crime was committed because emails were “stolen” and published to defame them. However, if the information to “defame” them came from their private correspondence, would that not imply that it was true, and therefore not defamatory? (Defamation requires that information published must be false to be defamatory).
In order for an accusation of “hacking” to even be relevant, there would have to be at least one private email that was obtained and exposed without permission, and then malicious damage done to a person because of it. There is neither. Not one private or personal email at all was obtained by anyone, nor posted.
What was obtained and published are posts to a Yahoo Groups forum. The database is comprised of posts forwarded to us via email notifications of the posts from a member of the group. We cross checked validity with posts sent from another member of the group, who also supplied screen captures used in the articles.
While we are flattered that Digg Patriots credit us as having “super-secret hacking skills”, or employing a team of CSI-trained private investigators to compromise their systems, all of the information was given to us voluntarily by other members of the group. Not one example of anything malicious was done (unless they deem exposing their cheating operation as malicious), to even merit the insulting claim that anyone in our investigation team did anything that was damaging with malice. We took months of pained review of the tens of thousands of posts to redact anything that was not relevant, or personally identifiable. Something we didn’t have to do – but we did.
One element that possibly played a part in feeding the “hacking” allegation is remnants of data that were overlooked in the redaction process, including a few articles present in screen captures that were included by one overly paranoid source (and not entirely trusting of us at the time), in attempts to mask their own identity by replacing identifying elements in their browser with that of another member, specifically one who angered them to the point of deciding to obtain and forward the captures of the Yahoo Group and posts. When this was found, it was simply cropped out entirely and all other identifying information was removed.
No Crimes Were Committed on Our End – Can that be said about Digg Patriots?
No crime was committed in obtaining or publishing these posts.
That cannot be said with certainty about members of Digg Patriots, especially one in particular – R.J. Carter, who has been a member of the cyber-terrorist group called The Yahweh Clan; a group whose actions cover about every area of human depravity, and have been deemed criminals by law enforcement.
On Wednesday, March 26, 2008 Corporal Patrick McCRORY of the
Maryland State Police, Cyber Crimes Unit telephonically contacted this office and provided the following information: Corporal McCRORY advised that on February 28, 2008 he furnished copies of this office’s report, and all information furnished by [name redacted] at the meeting held at the State Police Cyber Crimes Office on Wednesday, February 28, 2008 to the Federal Cyber Crimes Task Force.
The information provided to the Task Force was forwarded through Detective Sergeant Kail, the liaison with the Federal Task Force.
Corporal McCRORY also advised that on Wednesday, March 12, 2008
he formally presented this matter to the State’s
Attorney’s Office […] Corporal McCRORY advised that on today’s date, March 26,2008 he
received a letter from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office
declining prosecution in this matter. Corporal McCRORY stated that the
letter cited “limited resources” and lack of clear jurisdiction as reasons for
the declination [...]
On instant, this Investigator contacted the FBI Baltimore Division
Headquarters, Woodlawn, Maryland, (Tel: 410/266-8080) and spoke to one
of the complaint agents on duty. […]
This Investigator explained to the Baltimore Complaint Agent that this
investigator is a retired FBI Agent from the Baltimore Division. It was
explained that this office is doing investigative work for an attorney’s office
in Rockville, Maryland in regard to possible cyber crimes that involve
threats [by “The Yahweh Clan”]
The facts of this complaint, i.e. threats against [victim(s)] via the internet, and the “Yahweh Clan”, were furnished to the FBI.
The FBI Complaint Agent opined the following: The complaint will be channeled to the appropriate
substantive desk, probably one of the “Homeland Security Squads”, and from there, it will be sent to the Federal Cyber Crimes Task Force who already has it. The Federal Task Force will review the complaint for jurisdiction matters […]
On Wednesday, April 23, 2008, Sergeant Robert Smolek telephonically advised that the
[citing that, although] there is no question in his mind that [victim(s) names] are being threatened by [“The Yahweh Clan”], the expense of running these individuals down in a nation-wide or even a worldwide search is beyond the resources of the State Police.
Despite what he tells other fellow DP members, this is the group that R.J. Carter has been an active member of. He does not “hunt pedophiles”, only helps work to convince others that innocent people are pedophiles [motives and framing tactics for this are spotlighted early in the video here].
Along with this, we can add forgery, perjury and identity theft into the mix, all Federal crimes. Numerous forged and DMCA forms were filed in attempts to – no surprise – force removal of content of people they were targeting, on the YouTube service, or anything that exposed their actions. This was also apparently done to a video exposing claims made by R.J. Carter as untrue, at his request, by a fellow Yahweh Clan member. [Spotlighted in the video here, which he also tried to get removed].
Others, including the group YTV, have been working with law enforcement, FBI, as well as numerous other legal entities and organizations to deal with this specific group and the internet-wide issue of extreme harassment and criminal actions that take cyberbullying to a whole new level.
- September 11, 2010 Cyber Terrorism Ring Revealed – Part 2: Our Response to Intimidation Attempts
- August 3, 2010 Cyber Terrorism Ring Revealed: A Case Study In The Depths Of Depravity
- October 15, 2010 Digg Patriots Censorship Part 2: The Evidence
- March 19, 2012 Progressives Guide to Social Media 8: Other Sites
- August 9, 2010 DiggGate Reveals Pattern Of Behavior For Ultra-cons