Reddit is having a melt down.
If you don’t know what Reddit is you might not understand, or care about this. But to those of us who were avid Redditors this has been an ugly couple of days.
Reddit was a bastion of free speech. While our for-fathers had underground newspapers that fought against the status quo, we had sub-reddits. We took the phones to let the FCC know we would not stand for the destruction of net neutrality. We fought to hold back SOPA and PIPA. We had the world record for online Secret Santas. We sent pizza to a two year old cancer patient. And so many more things from helping kids with homework to donating kidneys.
Over the last few months since the new CEO, Ellen Pao, took over, Reddit has been plagued with troubles. There were a flurry of bans, and while many looked at the bans and worried it was just the beginning, many of us weren’t upset because the content was quasi legal anyway. At the same time many of us wondered why they didn’t remove other subreddits that were equally distasteful. Then came another rash of subreddit bans, this time because the subreddits were accused of vote brigades and harassment of people on and off reddit. While many knew about and disagreed with some of those deleted (like FatPeopleHate) others knew it would eventually cause issues, and many of us believed it was a political action as some subs with less than tasteful cultures were deleted while others who are notorious for harassing people on and offline were left alone.
Reddit was started by two college students looking for a great aggregate site. They delivered. And it got HUGE. So huge that a corporate entity bought it from them some time ago. At the end of the day, Reddit is a corporation, and they have the same bottom line as everyone else. Money.
The sad part is, Reddit was a fantastic place to get breaking news. Often they had better news about events then any of the major news networks. They had live reports from people in the middle of the action, photos from people at the floods, or fires, or tsunamis. Reddit had mega-threads for the devastating tsunami in Japan so we had one place to go to find out as much as we could. That, along with so many other things, made Reddit a wonderful place.
However, with corporate interests comes corporate censorship. It has been noted for quite some time that the default subreddits ban anything “controversial”. That means they do not allow anything that would upset their corporate interests into those default threads, the largest subreddits available with the most eyes seeing them every day. So as we were trying to fight TPP they were banning all discussion of it from anyone who might see it, and even banning people from the subreddits. The same spirit that helped us con conquer SOPA/PIPA and lead the fight for net neutrality is now banned from the most visible parts of reddit.
These six companies own 90% of all the media. ALL OF IT. What we read, what we watch, what we listen to. They tell us what they think is appropriate to watch and see. They spin it the way they want to, and they don’t care if we want to see something else. In tern these agencies are paid for, and controled by other corporate interests. If their sponsors don’t like something they will pull funding. Like the case of Monsanto forcing a Fox News affiliate to change their coverage over dangerous hormones in milk. Two reporters were fired, and the court held up the right of the news affiliate to spin the news as they saw fit (i.e. they could lie.)
More and more it seems that Reddit has becoming just another corporate entity. This is devastating for the freedom of speech. The freedom to get and share ideas. The ability to simply know the truth instead of what corporate money, and political interests want us to know. There is a reason propaganda is so predominant in this country. Even today.
I am sad to see Reddit falling to pieces. I am sure it will survive in some form or another, but I know that as long as leaders of reddit seem more interested in political correctness then I won’t feel as comfortable as I once did. I’ll always be wondering what they banned this week, or who they are shadowbanning to keep silent.