First, I regret having to make a post about Reddit, but sometimes I cannot resist.
We’ve been following the situation with r/NoNewNormal since weeks before it got quarantined, and wanted to lay out a timeline of how it went down.
In early August, we first heard about the plans by “powermods” (moderators of very large and influential subreddits) to hold “blackouts” (where they take their subreddits private, disallowing posting) in an effort to force Reddit, Inc (a $10 billion company) to change its policies.
It may seem unlikely that a small handful of volunteer moderators would be able to so easily influence the policy of a $10 billion company, but Reddit has a long history of giving in to moderators who hold subreddits hostage, such as in the 2015 Blackouts which led to Reddit CEO resigning, and blackouts earlier this year with regards to Reddit’s then-employee, Aimee Challenor.
Upon hearing about the blackout plans, Reddit quarantined the community in early August.
An important note about quarantining is that it’s always followed by at least a 30 day review period, after which moderators can appeal. Typically there’s 3-4 of these appeal periods before a subreddit gets banned. No community has ever made it out.
This wasn’t enough for the powermods, they wanted bans, and now. Alas, they knew that they had to wait, otherwise it’d be too obvious how much power they hold over Reddit, if they force the company to ban r/NoNewNormal just days after they quarantine it.
Here’s some excerpts from the chats that the powermods were having during this time.
- “like if we start getting really demanding, they might have to push back to send the message that they don’t cave to holding subreddits hostage”
- “OR it’s they only caved to powermods, this just shows how much china is controlling the admins, etc. waiting a week gives plausible deniability”
- “it’s not a game of chicken that the admins can win long term”
- “whatever threats the admins have, they know they can’t actually use them”
- “the amount of protests this [suspending powermods] will trigger site-wide will render the site unusable within hours tbh”
- “so why not try to artifically induce that “big fuss” so we can skip right to the end much faster”
- “lock it up, as was planned. if admins forcibly remove you then they have yet another fiasco on the pile”
- in response to the potential of powermods getting suspended: “why would anyone want to stay on a website that would do that anyway?”
On August 21st, the powermods voted to go forward with the blackouts just under two weeks after the quarantine began.
The blackouts started on August 25th.
The first phase began with communities such as r/aww, r/pics, r/tifu, r/technology and hundreds more started either disabling posting or making stickied posts calling on Reddit to ban r/NoNewNormal. Here’s an excerpt of the very long list of subreddits involved.
They did not private their communities yet, to hold onto leverage in case it needed to go further.
REDDIT REFUSES TO BAN R/NONEWNORMAL
A day after the blackouts began on August 26th, Reddit made a post which I was hoping for but was not at all expecting.
In an r/announcements post, Reddit CEO u/spez addressed the blackouts and said that Reddit would not give in to the demands.
We appreciate that not everyone agrees with the current approach to getting us all through the pandemic, and some are still wary of vaccinations. Dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy. Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate. This includes conversations that question or disagree with popular consensus. This includes conversations that criticize those that disagree with the majority opinion. This includes protests that criticize or object to our decisions on which communities to ban from the platform.
Reddit also issued a veiled warning that they would take action against moderators who hold subreddits hostage to force censorship on the platform.
Powermods are NOT happy that Reddit is refusing to cower to their demands.
Days after the post in r/announcements by Reddit’s CEO, big subreddits decide to call Reddit’s bluff and start to go private again, knowing that the company will eventually be forced to give in.
This is a list of some of the subreddits which went private after Reddit had already said they wouldn’t be banning /r/NoNewNormal.
So it’s crystal clear, it’s a battle of powermods vs a $10 billion company. Who gives in first? Who actually has control over the platform?
Reddit gave in, and backtracked on its refusal to ban /r/NoNewNormal, just two hours ago.
This subreddit was banned due to a violation of Reddit’s content policy against promoting community interference.
Let’s get this clear. Hundreds of massive subreddits went private and called out /r/NoNewNormal by name, to get it banned. And then /r/NoNewNormal is the subreddit which gets banned for interfering with other communities.
Reddit stands for nothing and is under complete control of a small group of volunteers. It's long been known, but was once considered a conspiracy.
I’ve been on Reddit for a long time, and I’ve found myself at the center of the censorship controversy many a time during /r/The_Donald’s time on the platform, and yet this situation still surprises me. It’s next level, and that’s saying a lot because very few people understand the full story of what went down with /r/The_Donald.
New low, I think.
Nothing else to say.