Microsoft Subnet An independent Microsoft community View more

Reddit penalizes technology subreddit for censoring headlines about 'spying', 'NSA'

Reddit removed technology from the default subreddits after an AutoModerator tool deleted any submission that contained one of about 50 banned words such as "spying", "NSA", "FBI", or "US government."

I don't visit Reddit every day, but when I do, I check out /r/technology. Over the weekend, I wondered why "technology" was no longer listed across the top of Reddit. For a moment I wondered, "Did Digg's former bury brigade migrate over to Reddit's technology section?" Each social network has its own form of gaming to control the topics that hit the "front page." Reddit is suffering from power-mad mods who blatantly favor some sites and keyword censorship that completely nixed some technology topics.

With over 5 million readers subscribed to the subreddit section "technology," it seems like the topic should be a big deal for the social news site Reddit; after all, it claims to be "the front page of the internet." But the section was secretly suffering from heavy censorship as any submission with one of about 50 banned words in the title would result in the post automatically being deleted via an AutoModerator tool. Every social network has its form of gaming, but if Reddit serves as the go-to front page of the web, and certain topics are banned, then people might tend to believe that only what is leftover and showing as "popular" are the "important" bits and bytes of technology.

I don't know about you, but I don't think articles with "spying", "NSA", "FBI", or "US government" in the headlines should automatically be rejected. Silencing voices of dissent? How nice for the intelligence apparatus. Now the entire "technology" section is no longer listed across the top of Reddit; the BBC added that it is no longer a "default subreddit" being "promoted to new account holders."

"We decided to remove /r/technology from the default list because the moderation team lost focus of what they were there to do: moderate effectively," said Reddit spokeswoman Victoria Taylor. "We're giving them time to see if we feel they can work together to resolve the issue. We might consider adding them back in the future if they can show us and the community that they can overcome these issues."

This was the big list of secretly banned words for /r/technology:

title: ["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"]

The Daily Dot first reported the Reddit mods' censorship of headlines with specific words. It seems like the fault is now being tossed upon the former moderators, some who quit and others who were banned. "Tesla gate" was the start of the big drama, according to former technology mod agentlame, who explained "the failed moderation and gaming of r/technology." Agentlame was shortly thereafter banned from /r/technology. Other Redditors blame the lack of transparency and have since made AutoModerator's configuration page accessible and even a "Reddit censorhip checker." There's also a list of domains banned from /r/news.

Like this? Here's more posts:

Follow me on Twitter @PrivacyFanatic

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10