Wednesday, Reddit banned a subreddit — r/NoNewNormal — infamous for spreading COVID misinformation.
The move came after 135 of Reddit’s subreddits, including some with literally millions of subscribers, “went dark,” basically pulling themselves offline until Reddit banned the NoNewNormal sub.
But according to Reddit admins, neither the protest nor the misinformation was the reason for the ban: in a statement that seemed almost designed to not fully satisfy anyone, Reddit explained that the key problem was the subreddit’s penchant for disrupting other subreddits with “brigades” of trolls.
While we want to be a place where people can explore unpopular views, it is never acceptable to interfere with other communities. … in this case, we found very clear signals indicating that r/NoNewNormal was the source of around 80 brigades in the last 30 days (largely directed at communities with more mainstream views on COVID or location-based communities that have been discussing COVID restrictions). This behavior continued even after a warning was issued from our team to the Mods.
While Reddit clearly recognizes the dangers of COVID misinformation, particularly when it comes to, say, encouraging people to “treat” COVID with toxic horse paste, banning NoNewNormal for brigading seems a bit like convicting Al Capone for tax evasion.
Reddit also said that it had quarantined some 54 other subreddits, but didn’t spell out which ones, at least not in their statement. And r/conspiracy — home not only to COVID misinformation but also a great deal of outright hate — wasn’t even quarantined.
The reaction in the AgainstHateSubreddits subreddit was decidedly mixed. While some commenters posted celebratory dancing crab emojis, others suggested that “[e]ven when they do the right thing, they do it in the wrong way.” This seems always to be Reddit’s MO.
“Ah yes, banned for brigading,: No_Evil_Star wrote,
not for the casual hate speech conspiracy bullshit, and spreading misinformation with a notable body count. In light of [Reddit CEO] Steve Huffman’s cowardly statements before they finally dropped the hammer, their priorities are clear.
Reddit does not care about human life, marginalized or otherwise. They only give a shit about the sanctity and profitability of their platform.
This is the worst way to get good news.
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