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Think Digg is deader than a doornail? Think again. The news aggregation site is showing new signs of life and has Facebook to thank for its recent resuscitation.

Digg’s pageviews jumped 35 percent in January, and the struggling company saw its highest traffic numbers since October 2010, software engineer Will Larson said in a blog post Friday.

Why the sizable swell? Facebook, by way of the Digg Social Reader application, is bringing new readers to the site. In January, Facebook referral traffic was up by 67 percent, Larson indicated

In late December, the flailing startup introduced the Open Graph application, which is akin to the Washington Post Social Reader or the Yahoo Social Bar. Digg Social Reader stimulates story-sharing on Digg and on Facebook. Once installed, Facebook members can automatically share their Digg-reading activities with friends and subscribers on the social network. The application also hooks into Facebook Ticker and Timeline for more visibility.

The new blood is a much-needed infusion of hope for Digg. 2010 and 2011 were rocky years for the site that was once the angel of traffic for many a media company and blogger. Digg, which launched in 2004, quickly lost relevance with online news readers as Reddit swooped in to take its place. A poorly received redesign and the loss of its once revered leader seemed like sure signs that death was to become its doom.

Can Facebook help Digg forge a full-fledged comeback? The jury is still out, but the company is paying close attention to the reading behaviors of its newest Facebook fans.

“As compared to stories read on Digg (without Digg Social Reader turned on) — there are two main differences,” Larson detailed. “Entertainment stories were 14 percent of all stories read but less than 4 percent of those added to the Timeline. Likewise, political stories comprise less than two percent of those added to a user’s Timeline but close to 10 percent of what people read. The differences are significant enough to begin to predict a new type of reading behavior.”

And Digg is not alone in noticing the unique behaviors of Facebook readers. Yahoo, which introduced the Social Bar last year, has also seen a surge in new readership — especially in the highly coveted youth category — and is happily hitching its news product to Facebook to ride the wave back to relevancy.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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