The popular geek subreddit r/technology has been caught censoring posts in what forum moderators are calling “a disaster” for the board. Reddit today removed the “default subreddit” status from r/technology meaning it has lost its “preferred” standing, a status only afforded to two dozen Reddit communities. The move was made after Reddit admins found r/technology was secretly deleting posts if they contained certain words. What types of words? Here’s the known list – and it’s suspected that there are many, many more:
- Restore the Fourth
- Time Warner
- net neutrality
- National Security Agency
The move came after redditor user, creq, put together a list of words he found were suspiciously underrepresented on the subreddit. Almost all had this in common – they intersected technology and politics or could be seen as controversial. Users of the subreddit had long complained about bizarre restrictions on the board and after the censorship activities were discovered, Reddit admins dropped the subreddit and posted the following to r/Technology:
“The past few days have not been your finest hour. We feel that your focus has shifted from moderating your community to squabbling over who is added to the mod list. We’ve come to the conclusion that you are no longer effectively managing your community or moderating this subreddit, and we have decided to remove you from the defaults. If you can manage to look past your petty squabbles, add new moderators (three needs to be a significant increase in active mods), and function as a team we might consider adding you back.”
Reddit has dropped other subreddits for censorship (e.g. r/atheism and r/politics), but in those cases, the move was not as surprising. r/Technology said that moderation in their subreddit is done via a bot and apparently, the choice of words to filter was less than a scientific guess.