Reddit mods are creepy ideologues

I avoid using reddit, mostly because it has a bad layout, a bad userbase, and bad mods (the cyberpunk subreddit is cool though). Today, upon hearing about the recent New Year’s mass sexual assault and other lawbreaking by migrants in Germany. I decided to wander over to the news subreddits to see if the mods were squelching facts that they didn’t like. It turns out that they were, and my bias was confirmed.

Major subreddits were deleting all reports of the sex attacks. Despite it occurring to perhaps thousands of people in the major cities of Hamburg, Cologne and Stuttgart, mods on /r/new and /r/worldnews all said that it wasn’t allowed, using obviously bullshit excuses like “Wrong subreddit” or “local crime story.” Both of these subreddits regularly break 10,000 users reading at any given time.

Their narrative broke down it was clear that the incidents were so bad that Angela Merkel publicly condemned them. So I notify the mods that the Chancellor of Germany commented on this crisis that other officials had already called “unprecedented.” This forced them to allow one heavily-buried thread in the subreddit after about 24 hours of total censorship.

standardWait, commentary from a head of state is required for such a submission? I immediately know that’s bullshit from links that other “local crime” stories (that coincidentally painted migrants in a positive light) compiled by a user in another thread, and so I send them this message containing these links to point out how the argument clearly doesn’t hold up. Posted in text form so the links can be clicked:

It’s obvious that you don’t like the political implications, since these stories were not removed.

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3vn1w3/gay_refugees_placed_in_separate_accommodation/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3wsr9a/french_teacher_invented_school_attack/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3x3mmy/two_paris_attack_link_suspects_arrested_in/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3vk68q/germany_ablaze_over_200_attacks_on_refugee_homes/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3xbvaq/violence_erupts_between_police_and_demonstrators/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3jlmmi/five_people_have_been_injured_in_a_fire_in_a/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3s342w/berlin_protesters_clash_with_police_near/

Here’s the only response I got from the not-at-all ideological moderators:

mutedWhy the sudden stonewalling after a reasonable question is brought up during a reasonable exchange?

Update: The censorship on Reddit is a microcosm of how leaders in the real world are reacting — they are mostly concerned with this hurting their narrative.

Update 2: I was suspended from Reddit by the employees of the site (administrators) for what they call “vote manipulation.” I am guessing because I upvoted all the links concerning mod censorship and links to this blog post, but the actual motivation for the suspension is pretty obvious.
suspendedThis makes me think that the site’s top brass are indeed the ones who are supporting censorship, not just mods, who are power users.

18 comments

  1. WOW! This just goes to prove that these subreddit mods have hidden agendas, Reddit admins can do something about this and should.

    The only way you make an impact on these sorts of things is if you don’t support the news source, in this case unsub from /r/worldnews.

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      1. @Robert
        Considering they’re imposing their will in an obvious fashion on giant default subs, it’s pretty much impossible that the admins are not aware and either being complacent or directly handing down orders.

        Like

      2. @No
        Well a hands-off approach is different from culpability. Admins actually wanting it this way rather than not giving a shit is a different ballgame. The fact that ideological fanatics wormed their way into the modship isn’t really surprising, but admins being in on the whole thing is.

        Edit: The ban I got provides more evidence of your theory, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. >Why the sudden stonewalling after a reasonable question is brought up during a reasonable exchange?

    Hmm, I wonder why.

    They should be called out as rape apologists. Every reference to them should be preceded by “rape apologist”.

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  3. The mainstream media rightly gets criticized for enacting a gateway through which anti-narrative events can’t pass. The Internet offers a chance to get around that, but it turns out there are loads of useful idiots who will voluntarily set up the same filters.

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  4. It should be remembered that similar narrative driven moderation on redditplayed a large part in sparking off 2014’s Gamergate scandal. Given enough time, it would not surprise me to see reddit moderators being the cause of an even larger flame war in the future.

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    1. And yet a well known pro-GG sub, /r/KotakuInAction, continues to flourish. As do dozens of other anti-PC subs.

      Believe me, Reddit could go seriously SJW-only if they liked. And if they do, I won’t be there.

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  5. The weirdest thing about Reddit blacking this out is that it’s still apparently seen as a right-wing echo chamber on the left-wing internet. Though didn’t they recently come under new management that was much harder about cracking down on far-right subreddits?

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    1. A lot of people on the left confuse “a small group of right-wingers are allowed to exist” with “the entire site is dominated by right-wingers”

      The site in general is dominated social democrats/college progressives.

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    2. When I lurk on Reddit it’s pretty clear the consensus varies a lot depending on the individual subreddit, but the site’s entire design and software – esp. the upvote/downvote system – is almost optmiized for the creation of echo chambers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then there’s how despite Tumblr’s reputation as a progressive echo chamber, *that* site actually has a quite sizeable far-right contingent. (who all are head over heels in love with Taylor Swift believe it or not!)

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  6. You got off light with only a 3 day suspension. My account was permanently suspended for the same reason – vote manipulation.

    None of the admins will answer what it was they think I did, so I can only go on the assumption it was upvoting on one of the threads that the /r/worldnews mods eventually removed – since that was the last thing I had upvoted before the suspension.

    Reddit is pure cancer.. cancerous moderators backed up with cancerous admins who continue to turn a blind eye to the pedophilia, incest and bestiality subreddits that seem to flourish on that site, not to mention subs like shitredditsays, topmindsofreddit, and subredditdrama which point to people who end up getting harassed, made fun of, and bullied for having an “incorrect” opinion on something.

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  7. hi Kirsty,Kevan Meldrum here.Spoke to your dad earlier today and he told me about your works. Love it. Have pseasd the link on to Sarah and Rachel who are both interested.Dad is very proud.Keep up the good work.Will make contact when next in MelbourneBest wishesKevan0417 895 534

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  8. Many subreddits have become increasingly biased and draconian over the years, especially the default and popular ones. It was once hard to get banned. Downvotes and upvotes would do most of the work and mods would often be too lazy to do anything other than handle the genuinely problematic cases. It’s reached a point where reddit forums are some of the most rigorously censored on the internet.

    There are several causes for this which is a far to lengthy a discussion. The experience:

    0. There’s no transparency at all. This relates strongly to all other points.

    You can be talking to someone that was suddenly banned and not know it. Rules can change, such as moderators deciding the forum should be “family safe” without telling anyone so previously permitted behaviours are banned unexpectedly. You don’t know who was banned for what, it’s a blackbox. Your best source will be your own experience and those reported by other users.

    Establishing a pattern is difficult. When you combine reports with your own experiences and carefully scrutinise each case and the behavior of the reporter then a pattern does emerge.

    1. Moderators don’t follow their own rules or guidelines for moderation nor the forum provider’s guidelines for a healthy community. This also relates to everything else.

    I do not mean debatable cases but blatant cases. Everything falls into scope. What they ban, how they ban, what content goes through, what content is blocked, etc.

    2. Inconsistent enforcement of rules is common, especially for those that are vague and subjective.

    This appears to follow political interests. If you’re on one side of a political issue, expect the threshold to be substantially lower for one side. Expect self serving interpretations of rules and of comments.

    If you go by norms of reddit and the content, don’t expect it to be consistent. Criticise one culture and you’ll be fine but another and you’ll be in trouble.

    3. Bans are disproportionate.

    Instead of being a final resort or an extreme measure, permanent bans without warning or any reason as the default action for any offense, no matter how minor.

    4. Communication is poor.

    In many cases, do not expect to be given a reason for action. You may rarely receive either a short reason, often meaningless or a quote of the text in question.

    There’s a toxic attitude among moderators that they’re infallible and that people simply must obey. Any action is final and even if you prove they made a mistake such as misinterpreting a command it wont be accepted. It all comes down to authority, moderators don’t really abide by anything else. In many cases expect to be told “because I can” or some made up offense such as “religious disparagement”. Don’t expect communication to be productive, chances are it wont be.

    5. Behavior goes beyond creepy.

    When moderators aren’t completely mute, expect extreme hostility and immediate insults. If you ask a moderator why they’ve done something, expect responses such as “You’re a fucking idiot.” It’s best described as sadistic. They appear to get off on it and to want to get you to react. In any discussion with a moderator they’ll be the one behaving the least civil.

    They exhibit a lot of pathological behaviors that really makes your question their suitability. They’re no less aggressive, manipulative, argumentative, histrionic, paranoid and bizarre then the people they’re meant to be watching out for. Some behaviors are outright bizarre. In the middle of a debate between the users and another mod in the modmail, a second mod steps in and starts flirting with the first mod, telling them they love them and offering pizza.

    6. Actions are taken silently.

    Comments will regularly be silently deleted. You can’t know what else might be going on behind closed doors as well. There’s a host of ways in which the autobot and spam filter can be abused to further facilitate silent action.

    7. Fishing trips happen.

    If you come to the attention of a moderator, are banned from another subreddit or similar, expect them to check you out if they don’t like your political leanings and to try to find something to ban you for. In some cases, moderators may ban you from all of their subreddits and those they influence.

    8. Moderators take sides.

    Among the samples there are many of moderators taking sides in a debate that turns into an argument. For example, in a discussion about a white supremacist rally that was attacked by left wing extremists. A user states that while they disagree with the beliefs, that people have a right to free speech, that attacking people is not acceptable behavior and that the other group is just as bad. The other side of the debate flies off the handle and starts calling the poster a Nazi and a white supremacist. The poster states that position is absurd, then they’re banned. When they asked why they’re laughed at and told that white supremacist scum aren’t welcome.

    Perhaps the worst of this is that moderators don’t take the side of the community. They’ll often ban people for or remove well upvoted comments that aren’t particularly ban worthy.

    You always get bad people but here it’s predominantly one side that’s particularly controlling and abusive. That extends to the users and probably to the administrators as well. I’ve seem ample examples to this effect. While lots of subreddits like to pretend to be professional and the administrators like to pretend to be about free speech, in reality this is not so. One side is suppressed just enough or as much as they can get away with to ensure that the other side is dominant. The effect tends to be gradual but is considerable. Most of the major subreddits on anything, even for example the one for your country, over time have filtered out one side of the debate.

    There’s a significant toxic user base determined to shut down debate that seems to act with impunity. You commonly receive comments to the following effect: Being accused of being paid to post or an agent of some nefarious evil foreign power. Attacked for having a newer account. Attacked for posting in certain subreddits or reading certain news sources even if you don’t! Attacks on your comment history based on what sides of arguments you’ve taken, always hyperbolic interpretations. Waves upon waves of people saying that’s some fallacy I red about on wikipedia. There seems to be a new popular one every few months. Suddenly everything’s a strawman, then whataboutism, then false dichotomy. Inappropriate demands for sources, usually for something someone should know if they’ve been following or can easily look up. Name calling/labels, hyperbole/accusations, emotional blackmail and other dirty tricks are the weapons of choice. When you check out the pattern of behavior for these people, they’re been on reddit for years and doing it continuously for ages, they don’t appear to get banned for it.

    This becomes a lot worse with downvote abuse and various changes in reddit have worked towards maximising the effectiveness of this along with moderator abuse. This is why new accounts have things such as time limits, because people have been circumventing bans on political viewpoints which also means throwing away their karma. New subtle visibility algorithms appear to specifically target refugees that have been politically censored. Changes to the site also appear to make it closer to sites such as facebook so to make censorship harder to circumvent.

    This is to name a few annoying forms of harassment you’ll receive if for example you don’t unconditionally support mass immigration, you’re critical of religion including Islam, you’re critical of various progressive movements, you don’t believe nature ceases to exist at the point it becomes politically incorrect and if you believe in science, biology, sexual dimorphism, reason, facts, history and the like to the same effect. Not taking sides is enough to invoke oppression. For some reason the site is absolutely obsessed with upholding the sanctity of transexuals among other celebrity causes. Heavens forbid should you conclude their condition psychological rather than physical.

    Most of these subreddits aren’t meant to represent one side or the other and naturally should be open to all. Instead a few select interests are catered for and maximized.

    Most people in my country, by far, want immigration reduced. Extremely few people want it increased, a tiny amount. This is also fairly consistent around the world. Yet you’ll find that if you have these views on reddit, including for subreddits for your country, the argument for increasing immigration is vastly dominant! Similar for views on Islam. Most people don’t like it and that’s widespread. Or the EU referendum. That was close to 50/50 but you wont see anywhere near that representation on reddit.

    This does not only apply to reddit. The mainstream media is also completely at odds with reality and seems to think it’s their mission to make everyone believe that Islam is infallible. Some of reddit’s bias is imposed by forces at large and it’s age range. However even taking that into account you don’t get appropriate representation. This is a shame because historically one of the main attractions of reddit was that the people could discuss things outside of the normal forces controlling the narrative.

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