Cointelegraph’s user account remains banned on Reddit, with r/technology still missing from the homepage.
Days after moderators posted an apology for automatically deleting posts containing a number of words and expressions such as ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘National Security Agency’, Cointelegraph has received no response from Reddit with regard to the block.
Reddit’s alleged censorship of a number of items was recently reported in an article by The Daily Dot, as user u/creq compiled them in a public list. The BBC then reported at the weekend that moderators had confirmed the use of software “to automatically delete posts that featured ‘politicized’ words in order to avoid the links making it to the core list of most popular topics” which, it would seem, include technological terms when used in a context involving current affairs.
The Daily Dot reflected, "many would argue those terms have an essential value to readers interested in technology, but the ban was never put up for discussion among the subreddit's millions of subscribers."
In its apology, a Reddit moderator cited a “lack of transparency in our moderation resulted in a system where submissions from a wide variety of topics were automatically deleted by /u/AutoModerator”, adding that “the intent of this system was, to the extent of my knowledge, not malicious” and “We messed up, and we are sorry”.
In light of the discovery of r/technology remaining less visible than before, and the unavailability of Cointelegraph’s user account, questions will no doubt be asked not only about transparency of moderation but also the continuing policy of the reordered team, which Reddit also announced.
Meanwhile, Reddit’s communications director Victoria Taylor told news.com.au that Reddit is “currently in the process of figuring out the best course of action”.
Accusations of Reddit censorship have come up before. An incident in 2012 saw links to The Atlantic and Business Week deleted, displaying the message “this domain has been banned for spamming and/or cheating”. The Daily Dot reported that the action was due to a spamming operation conducted by The Atlantic’s social media editor Jared Keller.
While Keller was subsequently sacked, some critics believe that such cases highlight a tendency for knee-jerk reactions on the part of Reddit.
A statement by Reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted on Quora last month asserting that “the userbase for Bitcoin is basically crazy libertarians who are increasingly poorly-informed about currency systems and macroeconomics” has been discouraging for the cryptocurrency community.
While conspiracy theories belong in r/conspiracy, the lack of impartiality such a statement suggest could have implications for a site whose remit is, according to its official definition, “a type of online community where users vote on content”.
“This is why Bitcoin is so important,” Amos Meiri, Full Time Crypto-currency entrepreneur, told Cointelegraph, “imagine a distributed Twitter/ Reddit when no one has control other than the users themselves”.