Yesterday was a fascinating day at Digg, the very popular social news voting site. After receiving a cease & desist letter asking the Digg management team to remove posts containing the key to cracking the HD-DVD encryption code, they removed the posts and deleted the accounts of the people who posted them.
Following that decision, their users revolted and started submitting the encryption code in all sorts of creative fashion. During part of the day, all the top news on Digg were about that story. Digg finally decided they would not fight the community and “…after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.”
What it means: don’t underestimate the power of your users within a social media environment. Users become a much more important stakeholder in your day-to-day operations. Mashable has an interesting take on the future of this situation where Digg users could actually contribute money to a defense fund if they get sued. Mashable adds “Digg users could also significantly affect the coverage of the story on the Internet and in the press, even swaying popular opinion. An opportunity in a crisis?” Fascinating!