Reddit Will Adjust Algorithm To Censor Trump Supporters Following Orlando Shootings
sixteen Jun, two thousand sixteen 16 Jun, two thousand sixteen
Reddit has announced a switch to its algorithm on /r/all, the page that is meant to rank the most popular posts trending across the site’s user-run communities. According to Reddit, the algorithm will be switched to promote more “diversity” on the subreddit.
The switch is an explicit response to the Islamic terrorist attacks in Orlando, Florida. In their aftermath, /r/all was predominated by posts from /r/The_Donald, the primary community for Trump supporters on the site.
/r/all collects and ranks posts on Reddit according to how many “upvotes” they receive from users. A post typically requires several thousand upvotes to reach the front page of the site.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, mass censorship on /r/News, Reddit’s main forum for discussing cracking news, led to a massive user exodus to /r/The_Donald, a community known for its commitment to free speech. According to The Daily Brute, more than 11,712 subscribed to the Trump-supporting subreddit on Sunday alone, making it the most successful day in the community’s relatively brief history.
As concerns about censorship mounted, users began to use /r/The_Donald as their primary source of news about the shootings. At one point, eighteen of the twenty five highest-rated posts on /r/all were from /r/The_Donald.
Posts from /r/undelete and /r/uncensorednews, communities set up by Reddit users who were worried by growing censorship on the rest of the site, also reached the front page of /r/all in the aftermath of the shootings.
None of these subreddits have any fine level of trust or love for the owners and administrators of Reddit. And it turns out the owners and administrators don’t have any fine love for them either. After /r/the_Donald’s supremacy of the frontpage, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced the site would introduce switches to ensure more “diversity” on /r/all.
In an announcement entitled “Let’s Talk About Orlando,” Huffman began by denying that any censorship had occurred in the wake of the Orlando shootings, despite swathes of deleted comments recorded by users and archiving sites. Huffman said it was standard behaviour for Reddit mods to eliminate “duplicate posts” and posts with “speculative”
He also announced that the /r/news moderator who told a user to kill themselves after receiving criticism for his heavy-handed moderation had been eliminated from the team.
After the attempts to placate critics were over, Huffman went on to outline switches that would turn the previously user-driven algorithm on /r/all into something that will likely make it much stiffer for Trump’s army of Reddittors to use their size and popularity on the site to predominate the frontpage.
We are working on a switch to the r/all algorithm to promote more diversity in the feed, which will help provide more diversity of viewpoints and prevent vote manipulation.
Details about the algorithm switches have yet to be released, but they will almost certainly make it tighter for posts on Reddit to rise to the top of /r/all based on popularity alone.
Earlier today, Huffman clarified in an announcement that the algorithm switch was not intended to target Trump supporters, instead telling that the switches were being introduced to prevent “any one community” from predominant the listings. But given that the switch was announced as a direct response to the Orlando Shootings, during which /r/The_Donald predominated the listings, many Redditors aren’t buying it – including the founder of /r/The_Donald, who claims he was told by an admin that the switch was specifically intended to curtail them.
Speaking to Breitbart Tech, /r/The_Donald founder “CisWhiteMaelstrom,” who now goes by the name Dylan-W on Reddit, said that admins confirmed to him privately that the algorithm switch was because of the popularity of his subreddit. Furthermore, he claimed that the admin was utterly upset by /r/The_Donald’s success.
“I actually had an admin [confirm] this over Skype” said CisWhiteMaelstrom. “The admin I spoke to sounded utterly emotional and downright unstable. It was honestly a bit awkward just to be talking to someone who was in such a bizarre state of mind.”
“These site owners are afraid of running a site where people say things that will make them look bad. It needs to be a commitment to the userbase and an understanding of who uses their site. The_Donald absolutely not reddit’s base by any measure, but most users do feel repressed or censored in some way and it’s got a lot to do with the admins feeling embarrassed by them.”
On the censorship of Orlando-related posts, CisWhiteMaelstrom condemned the admins. “I think the admins have a lot to be ashamed of” he said, adding that Reddit users felt they had nowhere else to rely on for uncensored discussion other than the pro-Trump community.
“I’m not sure if users did trust us, to be fair. *Our* users did, since we’ve always let them speak, but I think there was a large population of people who didn’t but just had nowhere else to turn.”
We have seen many communities liker/the_donald over the years—ones that attempt to predominate the conversation on Reddit at the expense of everyone else. This undermines Reddit, and we are not going to permit it.
Like Facebook’s “Trending News” feature, which was introduced as a reflection of the most popular news stories on the site, but turned out to be a top-down system managed by left-leaning editors, the balance of power on Reddit is about to once again shift from the site’s liberty-loving, anti-censorship users to its progressive administrators.
As with Facebook, Reddit’s stir to exercise more control what shows up at the top of /r/all has significant implications for political discourse on the web and beyond. Millions of readers, including journalists, visit /r/all every day to find out what’s popular on Reddit. Right now, it’s Donald Trump’s subreddit. After the algorithm switch, it might still be Donald Trump’s subreddit – but visitors to /r/all might not be able to tell.
Reddit did not react to a request for comment.