June 17, 2016
Never let a good crisis go to waste.
A homocaust is as good a reason as any to shut it down.
Reddit has announced a change to its algorithm on /r/all, the page that is meant to rank the most popular posts trending across the site’s user-run communities. According to Reddit, the algorithm will be changed to promote more “diversity” on the subreddit.
The change is an explicit response to the Islamic terrorist attacks in Orlando, Florida. In their aftermath, /r/all was dominated by posts from /r/The_Donald, the primary community for Trump supporters on the site.
/r/all collects and ranks posts on Reddit according to how many “upvotes” they receive from users. A post typically requires several thousand upvotes to reach the front page of the site.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, mass censorship on /r/News, Reddit’s main forum for discussing breaking news, led to a massive user exodus to /r/The_Donald, a community known for its commitment to free speech. According to The Daily Beast, more than 11,712 subscribed to the Trump-supporting subreddit on Sunday alone, making it the most successful day in the community’s relatively short history.
As concerns about censorship mounted, users began to use /r/The_Donald as their primary source of news about the shootings. At one point, 18 of the 25 highest-rated posts on /r/all were from /r/The_Donald.
Posts from /r/undelete and /r/uncensorednews, communities set up by Reddit users who were concerned by growing censorship on the rest of the site, also reached the front page of /r/all in the aftermath of the shootings.
None of these subreddits have any great level of trust or love for the owners and administrators of Reddit. And it turns out the owners and administrators don’t have any great love for them either. After /r/the_Donald’s domination of the frontpage, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced the site would introduce changes to ensure more “diversity” on /r/all.
In an announcement entitled “Let’s Talk About Orlando,” Huffman began by denying that any censorship had occurred in the wake of the Orlando shootings, despite swathes of deleted comments recorded by users and archiving sites. Huffman said it was standard behaviour for Reddit mods to remove “duplicate posts” and posts with “speculative”
He also announced that the /r/news moderator who told a user to kill themselves after receiving criticism for his heavy-handed moderation had been removed from the team.