Reddit means different things to different people. To some, it’s the bastion of free speech. To some, it’s a nightmare come true. There have been no rules. But recently, that has begun to change. Sometimes, things said under the guise of ‘free speech’ cross all lines of decency and good humanity, so Reddit decided to make a few changes.
First, if you haven’t been on Reddit, you should. It’s a life experience. Reddit has many subreddits, which are like little communities within a large community. Most of them are delightful and invigorating, tossing new ideas back and forth, giving likeminded people a place where they can bond.
But some subreddits attract the very dregs of humanity because the very lax rules of Reddit also give you a chance to set up subreddits for things like paedophilia. No, not kidding – until you’re reported, you’re good. Since a large number of Reddit’s moderators are not actually paid employees – they are volunteers, rather like Facebook group admins – it’s possible for such subreddits to fly under the radar.
This aspect of Reddit has come under a lot of fire, so, to the dismay of many, Reddit decided to tighten up its very loose rules, termed reddiquette. This is what they came up with:
Under this new rule, subReddits that are particularly offensive cannot be seen unless you specifically opt in to see it and be a part of it by signing in. There will also be no sponsors here.
Reddit decided to tighten up its very loose rules, termed ‘reddiquette’
This might sound like a good idea – hide all the horrible stuff away – but take a moment to consider what it means in reality. The communities on Reddit that, even by Reddit’s standards, are really offensive, will get what we should stop calling ‘quarantined’ and start calling ‘VIP treatment’. They get a special members-only, ad-free club. We’re not sure what Reddit had in mind, but when you find subReddits trying to get themselves quarantined by spamming their own boards with the N-word, you begin to wonder if this is really a good idea.
Anyway, if you keep sweeping stuff under the carpet, at some point, the carpet will reach the ceiling and there will be no room for anybody except for those who are under the carpet.
But this policy came under quite a bit of ridicule from most people who don’t use Reddit, and so are on the outside and can afford to point and laugh. Reddit has replied with another, more radical move: they have banned certain subreddits.
Did you think that it’s only Indians who had to worry about bans? Not so! Reddit has gone so far as to ban certain subreddits. First, there was the subreddit dedicated only to making fun of fat people (/r/fatpeoplehate), a few weeks ago. When that was banned, a part of Reddit was up in arms. Now Reddit has banned more communities including and not exclusive to: /r/CoonTown, /r/WatchNiggersDie, /r/bestofcoontown, /r/koontown, /r/CoonTownMods, and /r/CoonTownMeta.
It should be obvious from the names that these are not subreddits you want to be associated with. They are racist and bigoted. Of course, moderators of these communities have a way of getting around this. They change the name of the subreddit slightly and set it up again, hoping to not be noticed by the people at Reddit who’re trying to weed them out. So far, they say they have been busy cracking down on all the variations being tried.
Our verdict: Those who think this is an attack on free speech don’t understand what free speech is. Reddit is not a state or government. Free speech does not mean that a private company will allow you to say whatever you like, with no restrictions. Until Reddit becomes the rulers of the sovereign state of Redditland, this is not really an attack on free speech. Even if they do, absolute free speech doesn’t really exist anywhere but your imagination. In most cases, you’re allowed to say what you like, but if what you say is slander or causes actual harm or has an inherent threat in it, you’ll have to face the consequences.
Image credit: Eva Blue, Flickr