Reddit Strips r/Technology’s Default Subreddit Status Over Censorship Dispute

Reddit has removed r/Technology as a default subreddit following a dispute over censorship on the 5 million subscriber strong subreddit.

Default status is a status given to select subreddits on Reddit that results in visitors to the site who are not logged in not only seeing content from these subreddits on the main page, they’re also listed across the top of the site as well.

Along with being among the oldest subreddits on Reddit, r/Technology is also one of the most popular.

The removal of default status followed exposure by a user named Creq earlier in the week who posted a list of banned words for headlines in the subreddit, including terms such as FBI, CIA, Obamacare and many more, following his analysis of the subreddit over several weeks.

Broadscale automated censorship had been suspected on the subreddit before, but never admitted by the mods.

A post from moderator Pharnaces_II on April 18 confirmed that moderators had been blocking submissions using particular terms, and provided the following list:

“cake day”, “cakeday”, “any love”, “some love”, “breaking”, “petition”, “Manning”, “Snowden”, “NSA”, “N.S.A.”, “National Security Agency”, “spying”, “spies”, “Spy agency”, “Spy agencies”, “مارتيخ ̷̴̐خ”, “White House”, “Obama”, “0bama”, “CIA”, “FBI”, “GCHQ”, “DEA”, “FCC”, “Congress”, “Supreme Court”, “State Department”, “State Dept”, “Pentagon”, “Assange”, “Wojciech”, “Braszczok”, “Front page”, “Comcast”, “Time Warner”, “TimeWarner”, “AT&T”, “Obamacare”, “davidreiss666”, “maxwellhill”, “anutensil”, “Bitcoin”, “bitcoins”, “dogecoin”, “MtGox”, “US government”, “U.S. government”, “federal judge”, “legal reason”, “Homeland”, “Senator”, “Senate”, “Congress”, “Appeals Court”, “US Court”, “EU Court”, “U.S. Court”, “E.U. Court”, “Net Neutrality”, “Net-Neutrality”, “Federal Court”, “the Court”, “Reddit”, “flappy”, “CEO”, “Startup”, “ACLU”, “Condoleezza.”


He claims however that newer moderators weren’t aware of the automated moderation, writing:

A few days ago it came to the attention of some of the moderators of /r/technology that certain other moderators of the team who are no longer with us had, over the course of many months, implemented several AutoModerator conditions that we, and a large portion of the community, found to be far too broad in scope for their purpose.

He continues:

There was significant infighting over this and some of the junior moderators were shuffled out in favor of new mods, myself included. The new moderation team does not believe that this condition, as well as several others present in our AutoMod control page, are appropriate for this subreddit. As such we will be rewriting our configuration from scratch (note that spam domains and bans will most likely be carried over)

He ends in noting that the existing mod team is looking at being more transparent.

The move to address the censorship issue however came too late, as Reddit management had clearly had enough and implemented a ban on r/Technology being a default subreddit, despite the attempt to address the issue.

r/Technology’s removal from being a default subreddit is not a first; previously r/WTF chose to remove itself following a decision by Reddit management to limit the number of the same mods each default subreddit could have.

The move to remove r/Technology may be reversed at a later date, but it shouldn’t affect the ongoing interest the subreddit has from regular users.



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