38 votes

Moderators of hundreds of popular subreddits sign open letter calling on Reddit founders to do more to combat COVID-19 disinformation

28 comments

  1. [10]
    Deimos
    Link
    spez just made an /r/announcements post basically saying they're not going to do anything: Debate, dissent, and protest on Reddit

    spez just made an /r/announcements post basically saying they're not going to do anything: Debate, dissent, and protest on Reddit

    42 votes
    1. [2]
      aphoenix
      Link Parent
      With the comments turned off. Amazing. "Dissent is important. But not dissent with me, spez, the king of reddit."

      With the comments turned off. Amazing.

      "Dissent is important. But not dissent with me, spez, the king of reddit."

      41 votes
      1. AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        Yeah, it's their "political ads" mode that I decried when it was announced during the last election cycle. Instead of allowing comments on the post/ad, it gets cross-posted to their army of unpaid...

        Yeah, it's their "political ads" mode that I decried when it was announced during the last election cycle. Instead of allowing comments on the post/ad, it gets cross-posted to their army of unpaid mods have to do the work of watching the conversation.

        16 votes
    2. Sheep
      Link Parent
      Ah yes, as we all know, reasoning with antivaxxers and understanding where they're coming from has really been working out... Seriously, saying the equivalent of "you should respect different...

      we continue to believe in the good of our communities and hope that we collectively approach the challenges of the pandemic with empathy, compassion, and a willingness to understand what others are going through, even when their viewpoint on the pandemic is different from yours.

      Ah yes, as we all know, reasoning with antivaxxers and understanding where they're coming from has really been working out...

      Seriously, saying the equivalent of "you should respect different opinions" in the face of people actively promoting harm to the world is pathetic at best and incredibly negligent at worse.

      I truly want to believe in a beautiful world where people argue in good faith and are willing to change opinions when presented with evidence, but we really need to realize that is but a pipe dream at this moment and some people just actively wish harm upon the world and you cannot change them no matter what, and removing them from your site is literally the best you can do.

      29 votes
    3. [2]
      Cycloneblaze
      Link Parent
      Reddit does not have to be the place where we have to """debate""" anti-vaxxers and deliberate misinformation, where we have to tolerate people "even when their viewpoint on the pandemic is...

      Reddit does not have to be the place where we have to """debate""" anti-vaxxers and deliberate misinformation, where we have to tolerate people "even when their viewpoint on the pandemic is different from yours" (viewpoint? on a pandemic???), but spez chooses to make it so. He chooses to make this post equivocating between people who think you should get a safe, well-proven vaccine against a dangerous, global disease and people who think you should eat horse dewormer and who regularly die of the disease they don't believe exists. This is disgusting.

      22 votes
      1. CharlieConway
        Link Parent
        Yep, spez's refusal to do anything about the covid related misinformation on reddit is malicious at this point. There's just no excuse for it.

        Yep, spez's refusal to do anything about the covid related misinformation on reddit is malicious at this point. There's just no excuse for it.

        16 votes
    4. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Of course not. Reddit is always reactive, never proactive. Until a news story gets published about someone who died after reading misinformation on www.reddit.com, they won't do anything.

      Of course not. Reddit is always reactive, never proactive. Until a news story gets published about someone who died after reading misinformation on www.reddit.com, they won't do anything.

      14 votes
    5. [3]
      Bullmaestro
      Link Parent
      This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think all the power mods need to stage an exodus from Reddit. Reddit clones are a-dime-a-dozen these days, and despite Reddit themselves no longer doing...

      This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think all the power mods need to stage an exodus from Reddit.

      Reddit clones are a-dime-a-dozen these days, and despite Reddit themselves no longer doing this, some sites like Ruqqus have freely released their source code and encourage the creation of forks. If these mods were to band together in secrecy, form their own platform then collectively urge their subreddit's users to leave Reddit and flock to their platform instead, it would spell disaster. Reddit could depose them but by then the damage will have already been done.

      A lot of social media competitors like Gab, Parler, Minds, etc that champion free speech have had to contend with mass cancellations from the tech & financial services industries which prevented their growth because they harboured hate speech. But a breakaway social news site run by former Reddit power-mods protesting against Reddit's refusal to purge harmful content would face no such backlash.

      5 votes
      1. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        Eh, I am not sure how well that would work. The average Redditor hates mods and thinks all we do is censor them and abuse our power. It would also only further engrain the idea that "power mods...

        Eh, I am not sure how well that would work. The average Redditor hates mods and thinks all we do is censor them and abuse our power. It would also only further engrain the idea that "power mods run everything on Reddit", especially if all those "power mods" went on to become admins of some new site. I doubt all that many users would come over to whatever new platform was created. If I remember correctly, the mods of r/changemyview tried that with their own online platform and it ended up failing after about a year or so.

        16 votes
      2. DrStone
        Link Parent
        I think it'd be hard to convince the majority of a major subreddit's users to leave. The biggest advantage Reddit has is that you can find everything under one roof and content is user-driven....

        I think it'd be hard to convince the majority of a major subreddit's users to leave. The biggest advantage Reddit has is that you can find everything under one roof and content is user-driven. Millions of active users means no matter how niche your interest, there's a great chance a subreddit exists. Come for that subreddit and get the rest for "free", no extra effort or accounts to participate. If moderators leave, even if from your favorite subreddit, even if they take some of the users with them, even if they shut the subreddit down, it probably doesn't matter; there's enough users that it/a replacement will likely continue on. Only for the most niche and heavily moderated subs, where the sub is the mods and core participants, would a planned exodus work, but losing groups on that scale is unlikely to have meaningful impact to Reddit the company.

        Reddit needs to screw up bad enough and long enough on a platform level that even the casual users are pissed enough to want a replacement, a la the Digg exodus.

        10 votes
  2. [4]
    kfwyre
    Link
    As someone who only really checks into reddit occasionally for fluff content these days, can someone share how bad COVID misinformation is on the site? I’m not doubting in the slightest that it is...

    As someone who only really checks into reddit occasionally for fluff content these days, can someone share how bad COVID misinformation is on the site?

    I’m not doubting in the slightest that it is an actual problem, by the way, I’m just interested in knowing the specific nature of it. Is it certain communities that have been allowed to persist, or is it endemic on the site and requiring constant mod cleaning across lots of different subreddits?

    15 votes
    1. smeg
      Link Parent
      On the sub for the state I live in, every post about COVID ravaging the state has more than a few comments about how the vaccines are deadly, the virus isn't real, it's all deep state Nazi...

      On the sub for the state I live in, every post about COVID ravaging the state has more than a few comments about how the vaccines are deadly, the virus isn't real, it's all deep state Nazi control, take ivermectin, natural immunity, etc etc. It's nearly always heavily downvoted, but it's there.

      14 votes
    2. Deimos
      Link Parent
      I haven't been paying close attention personally, but I've definitely seen a lot of people complaining about how much it's being propagated and issues being caused by users flooding into threads...

      I haven't been paying close attention personally, but I've definitely seen a lot of people complaining about how much it's being propagated and issues being caused by users flooding into threads and causing big arguments about stuff that... really shouldn't be an argument.

      Here are a couple of significant posts about it that I know of, and I'm sure the comments on both of them will lead to a bunch of other stuff if you want to look deeper:

      11 votes
    3. JCPhoenix
      Link Parent
      My main modship is in a smaller state political subreddit. Like around 5000 users. Earlier in the year, there was a lot more COVID misinformation. We certainly issued zero-tolerance/zero-warning...

      My main modship is in a smaller state political subreddit. Like around 5000 users. Earlier in the year, there was a lot more COVID misinformation. We certainly issued zero-tolerance/zero-warning bans and deleted lots of comments. But we probably banned around 10 people I'm thinking. Certainly no more than 20.

      But I don't think much, if any, of it was egregious stuff, like encouraging HCQ or bleach or anything like that. It was always centered around the mask mandates and lockdowns. Overall, I'd say COVID misinformation has largely gone away in our sub. I'll even let some discussions/debates over, say, school districts enforcing mandates play out provided people are being civil about it. Do I agree with anti-maskers? Not at all. But I'm not going to ban every anti-masker, especially since my state doesn't have a mandate in effect (though some cities/counties do). It's a political issue, unfortunately, but we are a political sub.

      I won't allow antivax though. If someone wants to argue against a vaccine mandate, that's different. But talking about injecting 5G and bodies becoming magnetized? Yeah, no.

      As far as the rest of the site, I don't think I see really blatant misinformation, like users pushing HCQ or Ivermetcin. Even in the major subs I lurk like r/Politics or r/WorldNews. Maybe the users and mods are doing a good job of reporting and taking action. Or people are downvoting those hardcore antivaxxers/misinformers into oblivion so I don't see it.

      Should reddit do more to alleviate the workload on mods as mods deal with misinformation? Absolutely. But do I think it's as big a problem as these groups of mods are saying? Idk. My experience says no, but that's just my experience. Who knows what it looks like in the major or larger subreddits.

      9 votes
  3. [12]
    dubteedub
    Link
    Direct link to the Open Letter signed by a multitude of subreddits and posted to r/vaxxhappened here -...

    Direct link to the Open Letter signed by a multitude of subreddits and posted to r/vaxxhappened here - https://www.reddit.com/r/vaxxhappened/comments/pbe8nj/we_call_upon_reddit_to_take_action_against_the/

    This is an interesting follow-up to r/NoNewNormal being quarantined two weeks ago today - https://www.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/p2glqm/rnonewnormal_has_been_quarantined_discuss_this/

    10 votes
    1. [11]
      shiruken
      Link Parent
      What happens is the admins aren't swayed by the open letter and subsequent media coverage?

      What happens is the admins aren't swayed by the open letter and subsequent media coverage?

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        I believe some of the signatory subreddits will go private at some point in the future. They are still discussing in a backroom discord server exact next steps, but that is the general next step....

        I believe some of the signatory subreddits will go private at some point in the future. They are still discussing in a backroom discord server exact next steps, but that is the general next step. Probably like a coordinated black out day of some kind.

        11 votes
        1. [3]
          spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          if you're involved in the planning at all (or can pass this on to people who are) one thing that might be a huge help is contacting the reporters who've already written articles on this in various...
          • Exemplary

          if you're involved in the planning at all (or can pass this on to people who are) one thing that might be a huge help is contacting the reporters who've already written articles on this in various places:

          Azmi Haroun at Business Insider / Yahoo

          Carlie Porterfield at Forbes

          you can give them a heads-up under embargo about the upcoming blackout. it gives them time to write a story about it, but they'll wait to publish it until the day of the blackout.

          bad PR is pretty consistently the only thing that Reddit actually responds to. the more of it we can generate, the better.

          something else along similar lines would be Resistbot, which makes it easy to contact your Congressional representatives, also allows user-written petitions that people can sign and send to their Congresspeople.

          if you had a pre-written petition for something like "hold Congressional hearings on the role Big Tech has had in spreading coronavirus misinformation, and include Steve Huffman aka spez, the CEO of Reddit" and linked to it in the announcement of subs going dark, I bet it'd get thousands of signatures.

          and the journalists would love that as well, because it gives them a news hook to write about other than "lots of reddit went dark in protest of ongoing covid misinformation".

          19 votes
          1. dubteedub
            Link Parent
            Yeah, we are keeping track of the different outlets/authors that are writing up stories on this. Once an actual plan is agreed to, i'm sure that will be communicated to some of these folks.

            Yeah, we are keeping track of the different outlets/authors that are writing up stories on this. Once an actual plan is agreed to, i'm sure that will be communicated to some of these folks.

            8 votes
        2. [2]
          Parliament
          Link Parent
          I think mods should turn all the bots off simultaneously and show just how much reddit is held together by unpaid professional devs who hacked solutions where reddit had none.

          I think mods should turn all the bots off simultaneously and show just how much reddit is held together by unpaid professional devs who hacked solutions where reddit had none.

          12 votes
          1. arghdos
            Link Parent
            “Wipe yer automod configure day”

            “Wipe yer automod configure day”

            5 votes
      2. [4]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        They'll do nothing, precisely what they've done so far. Catch is: If they are swayed, they'll also do exactly what they've done so far.

        They'll do nothing, precisely what they've done so far.

        Catch is: If they are swayed, they'll also do exactly what they've done so far.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          stu2b50
          Link Parent
          There's not much impetus for them to do anything. The reddit alternatives, to the extent they exist, were usually made to cater MORE to the freeze peach crowd, so there'll be no solace there. And...

          There's not much impetus for them to do anything. The reddit alternatives, to the extent they exist, were usually made to cater MORE to the freeze peach crowd, so there'll be no solace there. And any vaccine talk on hackernews is already a dumpster fire.

          8 votes
          1. [2]
            skyfaller
            Link Parent
            Is Tildes not a Reddit alternative? I recognize it's tiny, but I put effort into seeking it out because of the many flaws of Reddit, and it seems to be doing a good job with moderation so far....

            Is Tildes not a Reddit alternative? I recognize it's tiny, but I put effort into seeking it out because of the many flaws of Reddit, and it seems to be doing a good job with moderation so far.

            Every time I see more stupid behavior like this from Reddit, I spend a little more time on Lobsters, Raddle, Lemmy, etc... Maybe they're no threat today, maybe the real competition to Reddit doesn't exist yet, but complacency has killed many powerful companies in the past.

            6 votes
            1. mrbig
              Link Parent
              Tildes is not a suitable alternative for the regular Redditor. Most believe Reddit should be much less moderated. They would think Tildes is Communist Russia.

              Tildes is not a suitable alternative for the regular Redditor. Most believe Reddit should be much less moderated. They would think Tildes is Communist Russia.

              8 votes
  4. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Cycloneblaze
      Link Parent
      Nate is quite a prolific moderator, I think he probably had a few years' worth of gold already.

      Nate is quite a prolific moderator, I think he probably had a few years' worth of gold already.

      1 vote
  5. Comment removed by site admin
    Link