Reddit found censoring more controversial topics in tech section
One of the most popular sections of the community social networking and news site, Reddit, has been demoted because it was found to be censoring certain topics within the forum.
When it comes to spreading news and media online, various sites posses different standards for how they choose stories and how they go about reporting them. While the New York Times will make sure to adhere to journalism best practices and choose stories at the discretion of the editor, a blog that is run by a much smaller collection of people may take a more democratized approach to deciding which stories are the best.
The process of news selection is certainly an interesting one, as it dictates what is worth talking about. For many communications scholars, this process has been referred to agenda setting. Certain topics are likely to land better with readers than others, and it is the job of the editor to find what story this might be.
Agenda setting in the online community
The Internet is widely seen as one of the more democratic forces in the world today. On social media for instance, something goes viral not because a Facebook moderator said it should, but because numerous users find that the story, .gif, movie, etc is worth sharing. As a result, there is a sort of power switch that occurs. Rather than an editor or producer setting the agenda, the user in some sense does so.
One of the places online where this is highly touted is Reddit. The site, which is something of a hybrid between a social media platform and a news aggregator, is split up into various categories, known as subreddits. These topics range from anything to one's favorite sports league to different religious and political affiliations. It operates through a system of "up voting" or "down voting" in which users dictate which stories move to the top of the page, and which ones are not news worthy.
For a long time, many people felt that this process was among the most fair and unbiased. However, the Daily Dot recently reported that the moderators of one of the most popular subreddits r/technology, have been using bots that are censoring some of the most controversial topics facing the technology forum today.
These terms, which include NSA, net neutrality, Comcast, Bitcoin along with a slew of other words, were being deleted from the posts by those who were responsible for monitoring the subreddit. One of the common themes that that Daily Dot noted was that they all seemed to be at the intersection of technology and politics.
One of the moderators of the group noted that he uses a bot to filter posts that they would have likely deleted anyway.
"We don't have enough active mods and posts that break our rules can make it to the front page in less than an hour," the moderator told the news source. "So we're stuck using a bot."
Demoting the group
When news of this practice came out, Reddit decided to demote the group from its front page, according to Time Magazine. While moderators are necessary to make sure that the quality of discussion on the site is maintained, this practice has emerged out of laziness and is severely limiting discourse on the site as well.
The greater site said it would give moderators and the r/technology community room to figure out a solution to this problem. This is an interesting wrinkle in what has otherwise been touted as one of the freer sites on the net. In order to maintain its reputation as a truly communal website, the moderators need to find a better way of regulating discussions rather than taking on policies that are all too similar to the censorship policies of some countries.