Reddit Unsurprisingly Not a Free Speech Platform

Popular internet discussion forum Reddit recently shut down five subreddits which were said to be in violation of the site’s harassment policy. The subreddits in question were charmingly named /r/fatpeoplehate, /r/hamplanethatred, /r/transfags, /r/neofag, and /r/shitniggers say. Interestingly, infamous subreddits like /r/coontown and /r/gasthekikes survived the purge. Given earlier policy changes and comments made by CEO Ellen Pao, who is widely characterized as being an SJW, the initial round of removals was not a surprise, nor will it be a surprise if more shutdowns come in the future.

“The question is whether it would make them fear for their safety, or the safety of those around them or where it makes them feel like it’s not a safe platform. Somebody expressing ideas that aren’t consistent with everybody’s views is something that we encourage. There are certain posts that do make people feel unsafe, that people feel threatened or they feel that their family or friends or people near them are going to be unsafe, and those are the specific things that we are focused on today.

It’s not our site’s goal to be a completely free-speech platform. We want to be a safe platform and we want to be a platform that also protects privacy at the same time.”

Well there you have it. If people don’t feel safe—however you end up quantifying that—because of your words or ideas, that’s grounds for shutting you down. She could have been clear and said if you make actual threats against actual persons you’re out, but she did not; she said if someone feels threatened. As you may have heard, the current generation of young people feels threatened all the time and demands “safe spaces,” so really a policy like this is totally discretionary. And the people administering it clearly have their own biases and agenda.

I’ve never really been a fan of Reddit or followed what goes on there much—I was always more of a chan guy—although millions and millions of other people do, so I guess this is newsworthy. Apparently something called Voat, a Reddit clone of sorts in Switzerland which bills itself as a free speech platform, is looking to poach users exiled from or disaffected with Reddit. In that regard, I am reminded of the whole 4chan vs 8chan thing, and if that’s any indicator, the more extreme or divergent viewpoints will likely end up on the newer site and the older one will experience something of a hollowing out.

In my opinion, even though Reddit hosted and continues to host a lot of anti-progressive content, it’s never seemed like the place for it. The majority of the userbase is likely center or left, or even far left depending on which subreddit you go on, making other viewpoints outnumbered and contrarian. It’s not the best place to set up camp and I think they’re living on borrowed time. In a way, it might have always been that way. Freedom of speech on internet platforms that rely on user-driven content is a loophole that is easily closed with site moderation. Although I feel the same way about Tumblr, which has its own extensive community of anti-progressive, contrarian and right-wing people, I have set up a blog there, but I don’t consider it my main hub. People limiting their discussions to Reddit or Tumblr should consider broadening their horizons.

See also: Breitbart’s take on the Reddit cull.

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2 Responses to Reddit Unsurprisingly Not a Free Speech Platform

  1. Pingback: Free Speech and the Divergence of Law and Custom | Atlantic Centurion

  2. Pingback: Free Speech and the Divergence of Law and Custom - Freedom's Floodgates

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