Reddit and Russia – there’s a match made in unholy hell. If there is one government on whose bad side you do not want to get, it has to be Russia. There are others, but you really do not want Russia’s attention. But Reddit managed to get itself banned in Russia on August 13, 2015.
How to Grow Shrooms – Not in Russia
To be fair, Russia did seem to have good reason to ban it. Some content on Reddit violates multiple laws in multiple countries and only survive because they are not noticed. The particular content that caught Russia’s attention was a page titled “Minimal and Reliable Methods for Growing Psilocybe [Mushrooms].” Well, you can’t really quibble about that being illegal content in Russia.
Russian censors are not known for their great sense of humour, so they immediately tried to contact administrators at Reddit. But if you are familiar with the popular site, you will know that a large number of moderators and so on are volunteers who did it because they want to. Russian censorship authorities found hard to get in touch with Reddit administrators. Roskomnadzor, who keeps track of what to ban in the media – he is in charge of the media watchdog of Kremlin – added that particular page to their blacklist. The Federal Drug Control Service threw their weight behind the decision, too, declaring that the page promoted the use of illegal narcotics.
The next step was to demand that Internet Service Providers ban the content. Here is when the glitch happened. An estimated 30 percent of Internet providers, instead of banning just the objectionable and illegal content, banned the entire site because Reddit uses the secure HTTPS protocol. This entire process started on August 10, which is when Reddit’s how-to mushroom page caught the unwelcome attention of Kremlin.
Russia puts out call for Reddit Admins on VKontakte!
But here’s the really interesting part. When Roskomnadzor couldn’t contact Reddit’s administrators, he posted on VKontakte – Russia’s social media network – this message:
“Those who have contacts with the [Reddit] administration – ask them to check their email for messages from Roskomnadzor, otherwise… a number of operators may block the entire site.”
That’s right. The person in charge of Russia’s media watchdog agency acted like a teenager’s mom trying to get in touch with them and using Facebook embarrassment as a last resort.
Bringing great joy and celebration to Russian Redditors, they did indeed check their email and block the offending thread from being available in Russia. So now, if you’re in Russia, you cannot (as of now – somebody will find a way to sneak it back on, we know that) – find information on how to grow psychedelic mushrooms on Reddit.
But they did get themselves unbanned in Russia after they finally got around to getting rid of the content that offended Kremlin.
This isn’t the first time Kremlin has done something similar. They once found information on a Wikipedia cannabis smoking page objectionable and blacklisted the entire site.
And the culprit…
What happened to the person who posted the thread in the first place? Well, VKontakte, started a new thread, and VKontakte that Reddit should keep the content for free speech. Add another to the list of people who don’t completely understand the concept of free speech.
The biggest blow to many Redditors might be the statement issued by Reddit, or at least, this part of it:
“We want to ensure our services are available to users everywhere but if we receive a valid request from an authorized entity, we reserve the right to restrict content in a particular country.”
Oh no. Freeze peach.