45 votes

Reddit is finally facing its legacy of racism

31 comments

  1. [9]
    dubteedub
    Link
    So glad that this story is getting out! I think that the author here distilled the key message of what is going on with Reddit with this paragraph. I think Reddit has had a significant cultural...

    So glad that this story is getting out! I think that the author here distilled the key message of what is going on with Reddit with this paragraph.

    If Reddit is at an inflection point now, it’s not because hate has left the site. It’s because a growing number of people who head to the site for conversation and friendship have reached their limit. And whether or not Reddit’s management acquiesces to each specific demand, the letter itself is making a bold claim: Social-media platforms can’t evade the scrutiny that so many other institutions in America are currently facing.

    I think Reddit has had a significant cultural shift over the last five years since Ellen Pao was driven off the site. So many Redditors have seen the rise of white supremacy both on Reddit and in the real world. On Reddit, we are just tired of having to constantly fight against racists that have been allowed to run rampant and see the altright sub r/the_donald get a free pass year after year by Steve Huffman and the admins despite their well documented history of constant and blatant violations of Reddit's content policy.

    Since the letter was published the admins have reached out to us at AHS, as well as several black-oriented subreddits like r/blackpeopletwitter and others, to set up a call. I hope that this will be the start of meaningful change and a new direction and leadership from the site, but it remains to be seen.


    While the Atlantic is certainly the biggest publication picking this up, there have been a handful of smaller outlets and tech sites that ran pieces earlier this week.

    There should also (hopefully) be a piece in Bloomberg in the next day or so.

    37 votes
    1. [6]
      Turtle
      Link Parent
      Not to detract from your message but this isn't actually a big issue now as the mods have pretty much shut it down and transferred it to it's own site, thedonald.win. See: basically no user...

      see the altright sub r/the_donald get a free pass year after year

      Not to detract from your message but this isn't actually a big issue now as the mods have pretty much shut it down and transferred it to it's own site, thedonald.win. See: basically no user activity since 2 months ago (actually there is one mod post from 2 weeks ago so nvm but it's still virtually dead).

      7 votes
      1. [4]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I am aware. I wrote an update on T_D 3 months ago on r/subredditdrama here. The_Donald mods have put themselves in self-isolation, only allowing two posts on their subreddit in the last...

        Yeah, I am aware. I wrote an update on T_D 3 months ago on r/subredditdrama here.

        I still think the point is relevant as it was not the admins that took them down, but their own greed and desire for control. It also took what five years for this to happen? In the meantime, they were only quarantined a year ago last June.

        edit: I am also particularly proud of this meme at the end of my SRD post.

        https://i.imgflip.com/3shjfj.jpg

        18 votes
        1. [3]
          Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          Is there a particular relevance to the Oliver Queen reference in the meme? I'm not really up on my meme culture, and I rarely feel like I'm missing out, but occasionally I do find myself needing...

          Is there a particular relevance to the Oliver Queen reference in the meme? I'm not really up on my meme culture, and I rarely feel like I'm missing out, but occasionally I do find myself needing some context.

          1. smores
            Link Parent
            This is a behind the scenes shot from the Arrow/Flash CW TV shows. The guy flashing a peace sign is Grant Gustin, who plays the Flash

            This is a behind the scenes shot from the Arrow/Flash CW TV shows. The guy flashing a peace sign is Grant Gustin, who plays the Flash

            6 votes
          2. shiruken
            Link Parent
            I doubt there's any reference to Arrow or Flash, just that he's celebrating on a grave.

            I doubt there's any reference to Arrow or Flash, just that he's celebrating on a grave.

            4 votes
      2. Dest
        Link Parent
        It's still a pretty big issue in my opinion, just not specifically on the_donald. When they started to quarantine the_donald a bit, a ton of their users moved over to r/conservative. That sub got...

        It's still a pretty big issue in my opinion, just not specifically on the_donald. When they started to quarantine the_donald a bit, a ton of their users moved over to r/conservative. That sub got way more extreme almost immediately.

        12 votes
    2. [2]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      I posted the Atlantic article to Reddit here if you're interested.

      I posted the Atlantic article to Reddit here if you're interested.

      4 votes
      1. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        lol thanks! For whatever reason r/technology has long been a very pro-free speech subreddit. I think the tech community at large leans much more libertarian / anti-censorship than the average person.

        lol thanks!

        For whatever reason r/technology has long been a very pro-free speech subreddit. I think the tech community at large leans much more libertarian / anti-censorship than the average person.

        5 votes
  2. [9]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    @dubteedub Appreciation Thread Starts Here Let's give some love to one of our own who's out there making things happen! Hey, dubteedub! The fact that you are so diligently working to address...

    @dubteedub Appreciation Thread Starts Here

    Let's give some love to one of our own who's out there making things happen!


    Hey, dubteedub!

    The fact that you are so diligently working to address structural and systemic issues of discrimination on reddit, on a volunteer basis, and all while opening yourself up to the potential for significant harm from reactionary and abusive voices, is incredibly inspiring to me. You are demonstrating the type of necessary leadership that reddit has long lacked. Your pursuit of justice is reaching and will no doubt improve the community for millions of people online, as well as in the real world. Thank you. You are leading an amazing charge and doing incredible, vitally important work.

    40 votes
    1. [7]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      I want to especially emphasize how much harassment and general bullshit @dubteedub is putting himself through to keep leading these charges. The groups that /r/AgainstHateSubreddits regularly...

      I want to especially emphasize how much harassment and general bullshit @dubteedub is putting himself through to keep leading these charges. The groups that /r/AgainstHateSubreddits regularly targets are (obviously) basically defined by hate and harassment, and they know that there's no significant consequences to doing it on reddit. Setting yourself up as their enemy is guaranteed to cause a flood of attacks, and he does it repeatedly under his main account, not even using a throwaway or anything to make it easier to ignore.

      I know a lot of people express opinions like, "meh, it's just words on the internet, it's not a big deal", but I think you don't really know what it's like until you've actually been in a situation where you're getting hundreds or thousands of hostile messages with no way to make it stop or defend yourself. It's not something that everyone should just be expected to shrug off, it's awful. There's a tweet that's always been one of my favorite pithy summaries of a lot of internet behavior right now:

      Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it

      @dubteedub volunteers for that kind of treatment regularly. He steps into a torrent of shit over and over solely to try to make it a tiny bit smaller next time. It's not his job, he's not getting paid to do it. It absolutely has negative impacts on him, and there's very little personal benefit, if any at all. A lot of the time, it doesn't even accomplish anything, because reddit just ignores it. But he just keeps doing it, and that's incredible.

      29 votes
      1. [5]
        culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        My very first thought when I saw him mentioned in the article was that I can only imagine what his inbox must look like. I'd seen him around Reddit here and there but didn't realize just how much...

        My very first thought when I saw him mentioned in the article was that I can only imagine what his inbox must look like. I'd seen him around Reddit here and there but didn't realize just how much stuff he was on top of, so definite kudos to him.

        11 votes
        1. [4]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I experienced widespread reddit hate once, over the course of a single weekend, and it was enough to almost send me packing entirely (I eventually did leave the site, just not immediately in...

          I experienced widespread reddit hate once, over the course of a single weekend, and it was enough to almost send me packing entirely (I eventually did leave the site, just not immediately in response to that). I don't know how he or anyone can put up with a seemingly endless, noxious inbox of hate, in addition to the undoubted spillover into any other accounts of his that people find.

          8 votes
          1. [3]
            Grimalkin
            Link Parent
            I'm curious what that weekend was like and what prompted the hate directed at you.

            I'm curious what that weekend was like and what prompted the hate directed at you.

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              kfwyre
              Link Parent
              Buckle up! I'm a guy in real life and am totally fine with that being my gender, but at the time that I made my last reddit account I decided to specifically not have any gender markers in it and...

              Buckle up!

              I'm a guy in real life and am totally fine with that being my gender, but at the time that I made my last reddit account I decided to specifically not have any gender markers in it and be functionally agender online. I liked that I could just sort of exist as a genderless name and words.

              There was a particular woman who was in the news at the time with many conversations about her in many different places all over the site. I saw a comment from a woman on reddit who was defending the woman in the news who was getting dogpiled, and I stepped in to defend, affirm, and extend the commenter's message.

              Normally this wouldn't have been too bad, but the particular thread we were in then got linked by one of the meta subs and hit the frontpage, which is where shit absolutely blew up for me.

              I was actually playing in a D&D session at the time, and my phone started buzzing incessantly with a deluge of incoming messages. Out of courtesy and respect to the people I was playing with, I finished out the session before really even looking at my inbox, which is when I learned specifically what had happened with the meta post and saw that I had hundreds of new responses to read.

              Because of the several hour lag between when it blew up and when I finally started following things, I undoubtedly missed a lot of the more hostile public messages that had been diligently removed by mods (no such cleanup occurred for PMs though). Even with the help of the mods though, my inbox was still a mess, and after I started following things I of course couldn't look away and thus caught many more hostile messages in the time between when they were posted and when they got deleted.

              Presumably because my account had no gender markers and because I'd spoken up in defense of a woman, many commenters assumed that I myself was a woman, so a lot of the messages I received were blatantly misogynistic. I got death threats, rape threats, dick pics, and a confusingly high number of pornographic pics that were specifically of black men having sex with white women. I'm still not sure what the intended message was there.

              Those are the blatant, overt bad things that most everyone can point to and agree are bad, but it also exposed me to how it feels to be on the receiving end of paternalism. Because people assumed I was a woman, they treated me like one, which meant that a lot of comments talked down to me. When people weren't calling me "bitch" or "whore" they were calling me "sweetie" or addressing me in blatantly patronizing ways. As a guy, it really opened my eyes to the idea that misogyny isn't just overt hatred of or malice towards women but can be far more subtle and infuriating. One of the comments that really got under my skin said something to the effect of "I hate it when women like this one first discover feminism and act like they suddenly understand the world". It made my blood boil! Still does!

              reddit's attention span is short by design, so the whole event pretty much blew over when the meta post fell off the front page. I stuck around reddit for a while after that, but I was already having my doubts about the site and my participation had already long been falling. I stopped posting and became a lurker, and then I finally left the site for good.

              What's truly interesting about this whole situation is that, as I remember it, the experience was incredibly negative. I remember the hateful messages that came my way, including the approximate wording of many of them. What I don't remember are nearly any of the positive or supportive messages, of which there were many. In fact, I don't have hard data on this, but I would wager probably 80% of the messages I did receive were actually neutral to positive. Just as "happiness writes white" though, what I remember was the worst of them and they are the ones that set the tone for the whole episode. On paper, I should be happy about how it played out: plenty of people came out in support of me, my comment got gilded, I'd never gotten anywhere close to another comment with such a high karma score, and I got to know that probably tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people read my words. It should have been a great moment for me! But the worst comments have a way of taking up more than their share of the space. Even though they made up maybe 20% of the comments I received, they took up probably 99% of my mental energy and focus relative to this. They're also the anchor points that have stuck in my memory, to the point that I don't look back at my moment in the spotlight fondly. Quite the opposite actually. I didn't feel like I was standing in a spotlight at all, but in some crosshairs instead.

              I talked with my sister after this happened in order to process the event and apologize to her. She had faced a similar hatemob over something similarly trivial: she posted a reaction gif labeled "mrw" with a conventionally attractive woman in it, which of course outed her as a woman and opened her up to the worst people on the internet. At the time that it happened I didn't understand how invasive, demeaning, and demoralizing it felt to receive such widespread, distributed hate. I had defended reddit with "a few bad apples" type reasoning to her, but now I understood that it didn't matter whether the apples were good or bad when hundreds of them are being indiscriminately thrown at your face all at once. You don't tend to remember the good ones because the ones that hit and sting steal all your attention.

              She told me I now knew what it was like to "commit the crime of being a woman on the internet" which is a phrasing that always stuck with me. Women don't get to simply exist online like I do as a man because there are whole swaths of men ready to escalate things at the slightest sign of female presence. I didn't get it before facing my mob, but I definitely do now. I wholeheartedly believe that had I been openly male I wouldn't have faced nearly the same level of hate, scorn, or derision. I'm sure I would have gotten some, certainly, but nothing like what I did when they thought I was female. Would those same people still have sent dick pics? Porn? Given me rape threats? Called me a "bitch" or a "whore"? Patronizingly belittled my voice and intelligence? I very much doubt it.

              22 votes
              1. Grimalkin
                Link Parent
                Wow, just wow. Thanks for sharing your story. It's really frustrating and angering how difficult it is to be a woman on the internet (or when someone is perceived to be a woman), especially when...

                Wow, just wow. Thanks for sharing your story.

                It's really frustrating and angering how difficult it is to be a woman on the internet (or when someone is perceived to be a woman), especially when you say something "controversial" to the men reading it. My reddit account is 12 years old and I learned long ago that when a comment is attracting reply after reply after reply it is usually best to delete it and not engage with the commenters, because they're probably all worked up and are assuming things about me that probably aren't true and by leaving it up during the hours when the comment is "hot" it will devolve into a situation like yours.

                Of course you didn't get the opportunity to respond to or delete the comment and avoid all that negativity directed at you because were being a decent person and finishing your D&D session (which is awesome that you did, btw). As I spend more time here and less on reddit I am really seeing the value of deleting one's account and not using the site at all anymore. The rampant toxicity is quite awful and difficult on one's mental health.

                Again, thanks for sharing.

                6 votes
      2. moonbathers
        Link Parent
        It blows my mind the things people say about AHS, including people who aren't even on subs that get focused on.

        It blows my mind the things people say about AHS, including people who aren't even on subs that get focused on.

        7 votes
    2. dubteedub
      Link Parent
      Thank you! I don't want to take sole credit for this. There were a ton of folks that helped out and this would have been nowhere near as impactful were it not for them. My amazing fellow...

      Thank you! I don't want to take sole credit for this. There were a ton of folks that helped out and this would have been nowhere near as impactful were it not for them.

      My amazing fellow r/againsthatesubreddits mod u/Bardfinn helped edit and proof the letter. Tons of moderator friends helped with the leg work of getting the letter circulating and getting their teams on board.

      The moderator community really came through all around on this and I am just happy that I was able to do my part to try and make Reddit a better place for everyone.

      17 votes
  3. [3]
    patience_limited
    Link
    From the article: @dubteedub hoped for more media attention on Reddit's refusal to address hate on the platform; that attention seems to have arrived. My gratitude for the hard work of organizing...

    From the article:

    Dubteedub reached out to moderators he knew personally to build up support, and others signed on after news traveled through moderator group chats on Slack. The letter was written in response to Huffman’s Black Lives Matter statement, but posted three days after he published a longer note promising that Reddit would update its content policy to include “a statement on hate” and “a principle that Reddit isn’t to be used as a weapon,” a reference to coordinated harassment campaigns that have been organized on the site. Changes would be made in collaboration with moderators in the coming “weeks, not months,” he added.

    Both of Huffman’s posts were not a substantial-enough reckoning with the site’s past, Dubteedub argues, and danced around the reality that “Reddit has been a recruitment ground for white nationalism for many years.” Dubteedub and many of the moderators in this story asked to be identified by their Reddit username or their first name only, because of a fear of harassment and doxxing.

    @dubteedub hoped for more media attention on Reddit's refusal to address hate on the platform; that attention seems to have arrived.

    My gratitude for the hard work of organizing the communities, and willingness to bear the risks of getting hammered down on a site that's historically rewarded the hammer-wielders.

    18 votes
    1. [2]
      wakamex
      Link Parent
      Looks like they'll switch to their other time-tested strategy of over-reacting to appease investors by looking like they're doing something, but only after they get negative coverage in major media.

      Looks like they'll switch to their other time-tested strategy of over-reacting to appease investors by looking like they're doing something, but only after they get negative coverage in major media.

      10 votes
      1. aphoenix
        Link Parent
        Did you mean "just barely acting enough"?

        over-reacting to appease investors

        Did you mean "just barely acting enough"?

        16 votes
  4. [2]
    suspended
    Link
    I had Dubteedub sign on several subs that I founded including r/AskBibleScholars. I've already begun the slow process of leaving Reddit altogether. @Deimos is helping r/AskBibleScholars make the...

    I had Dubteedub sign on several subs that I founded including r/AskBibleScholars. I've already begun the slow process of leaving Reddit altogether. @Deimos is helping r/AskBibleScholars make the slow transition over here on Tildes. Obviously, I can't ask all of the moderators, scholars and users to abandon Reddit. Once I feel comfortable that the transition here is going smoothly and the moderators are all ready to take over, then I will delete my Reddit account.

    17 votes
    1. Account
      Link Parent
      Moving a community over to another platform is never an easy transition. My gaming guild did this(100+ people), moving from Discord over to a new platform called Guilded, which recently received 7...

      Moving a community over to another platform is never an easy transition. My gaming guild did this(100+ people), moving from Discord over to a new platform called Guilded, which recently received 7 million in funding! You're always going to get a push back from your community, and it will definitely neuter a lot of potential newcomers and traffic for a while. A dedicated community built surrounding itself and it's interest/hobby will always prevail through a push back, as long as you have that internal support. I wish your transition the best of luck!

      6 votes
  5. Bullmaestro
    (edited )
    Link
    In my view Steve Huffman needs to do the Reddit community a favour and resign. Not because I feel Reddit should uphold the rule of free speech. Voat, Gab, 8Chan and some of the most notorious subs...

    In my view Steve Huffman needs to do the Reddit community a favour and resign.

    Not because I feel Reddit should uphold the rule of free speech. Voat, Gab, 8Chan and some of the most notorious subs that thrived on Reddit years ago (like Jailbait, Creepshots, N***rs, C**nTown, CringeAnarchy, The_Donald, ChapoTrapHouse, Incels, Braincels, etc) are textbook examples of what happens when you allow free speech and free expression to be stretched to their absolute limits. Free speech can be a very dangerous thing indeed for how it allows hateful views to thrive.

    Rather, I think Spez should resign because to me he's dishonest, cannot take a stand on critical issues like hate speech, has been caught doing things like editing user comments, etc. In fact, I'm sure it was some of those things that eventually drove Kn0thing to resign from Reddit's board.

    I've always said that Reddit is just one mishandled shitstorm away from going the way of Digg and having another social news aggregator take over; since they're a dime a dozen these days. I always thought the nail in the coffin would have been the redesign if it were ever forced upon the userbase, but pandering to the likes of AHS may just be it.

    Subreddits like SubredditCancer, WatchRedditDie, The_Cabal, etc that was likely to face the chopping block may be quite biased in how they accuse the admins and certain power users of collusion and trying to push an authoritarian left-wing agenda, but like them or not, they're the canary in the mine. If they go, that will be the sign that Reddit is being taken over.

    Even The_Donald served as the canary to warn users that Reddit was about to clamp down, and given how they handled that subreddit (not by actually enforcing their rules but by demodding almost the entire team and trying to force the head mod into approving admin-approved candidates for new moderators), we already had a huge exodus of people to an off-site rehosting of the subreddit.

    5 votes
  6. [4]
    intuxikated
    (edited )
    Link
    Am I in an eco chamber or is the whole internet is really standing up against racism this time around? I lurked through some of the subs I've used to hang around, most of them are much more...

    Am I in an eco chamber or is the whole internet is really standing up against racism this time around? I lurked through some of the subs I've used to hang around, most of them are much more hostile to racism than last time.

    4 votes
    1. Kuromantis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I frequent r/politicalcompassmemes so I see it more often. (The last one is solely the comment section) There is also an anti-AHS circlerjerk on the sub. Edit: And this user, lol.

      I frequent r/politicalcompassmemes so I see it more often. (The last one is solely the comment section)

      There is also an anti-AHS circlerjerk on the sub.

      Edit: And this user, lol.

      6 votes
    2. crdpa
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I really don't know. I know there is racism in reddit. The same way i know there is disguised racism and bigotry in some sections of a forum i use, but since i don't visit those sections i rarely...

      I really don't know.

      I know there is racism in reddit. The same way i know there is disguised racism and bigotry in some sections of a forum i use, but since i don't visit those sections i rarely see anything.

      I don't find my experience of reddit racist at all, but that's just because i visit /r/boardgames, /r/weightroom, /r/linux, /r/metal (please don't visit /r/blackmetal) and look at pictures of dogs and cats. The popular subs just repeat themselves every couple of days so i grew tired of it.

      It's good they are taking action. The small portion of racism i saw there was enough for me.

      3 votes
    3. Account
      Link Parent
      The gaming community is still racist I have found in my own experience, although I'd say it is 10 times more subtle with it.

      The gaming community is still racist I have found in my own experience, although I'd say it is 10 times more subtle with it.

      3 votes
  7. [3]
    hoytschermerhorn
    Link
    I think this article is finally the push I needed to completely delete my 12 year old reddit account. Is anyone aware of a good backup tool that could allow me to save comments, posts, etc.?

    I think this article is finally the push I needed to completely delete my 12 year old reddit account. Is anyone aware of a good backup tool that could allow me to save comments, posts, etc.?

    5 votes
    1. Account
      Link Parent
      .txt with the direct links to your saved posts?

      .txt with the direct links to your saved posts?

      2 votes
    2. admicos
      Link Parent
      Pushshift archives a lot of reddit, including deleted posts. You should be able to query their databases for your name and get all your content. (if you haven't deleted your account already)

      Pushshift archives a lot of reddit, including deleted posts. You should be able to query their databases for your name and get all your content. (if you haven't deleted your account already)

      2 votes