Social Media Giants Set Up “Free Speech Zones” to Censor Dissent

Social Media Taking a Page Out of George W. Bush’s Playbook on “Free Speech Zones”

Preface:  Reddit is the 119th most popular website worldwide on the Internet, which is more popular than Digg.  Because news stories are submitted and voted up social media style, it used to be one of the best sources on the web for alternative news.

I am personally one of the top 100 or so posters to Reddit. Specifically, I have submitted many stories written by other authors on other websites, and have more than 150,000 “karma” points.

As such, I am saddened to see Reddit go the way of Digg and other sites which have been ruined by censorship.

The Bush administration gutted free speech rights by limiting protesters to “free speech zones” which were often miles away from the meetings or conventions being protested, and well away from the media spotlight.

For example, here is the “free speech zone” for protesters at the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

File:First amendment zone2.jpgAlign Center

File:First amendment zone1.jpg
 

Obviously, whatever speech protesters made went unheard. Which is no different from censoring the speech.

Social media sites like Reddit are doing the same thing.

For example, a friend submitted the following world news stories to the largest Reddit category, WorldNews*:

Reddit filtered the stories out, and moderator davidreiss666 said:

Please summit those to /r/WorldPolitics or /r/Israel instead.
Thank you.”

Worldnews has more than 1,200,000 readers. Posting on Worldnews means one’s speech will be heard … like protesting in front of a convention.

In contrast, Reddit’s Worldpolitics section has less than 50,000 readers. And the Israel section has just over 7,000 readers. These are back alleys where almost no one goes.

So Reddit is doing just what George W. Bush did: banishing protest to “free speech zones”.

Note 1: See this for background on censorship by Reddit and other social media websites.

Note 2: It is not a lack of understanding of Reddit’s rules which is causing this site to be censored on Reddit. For example, the friend submitting the posts to Reddit is one of the 20 most popular Redditors.  Two Reddit moderators – one who is much more popular than davidreiss666 – support the right of this site to free speech.

And – prior to the involvement of 1 or 2 moderators who have decided to censor this site – stories from this site were voted up to Reddit’s front page on numerous occasions.

This proves that it is the political agenda of certain moderators – rather than failure to follow posting guidelines or a lack of interest in stories from this site – which is the main problem.

* The politics category has 1,173,005 subscribers; but you can’t post world news stories to politics.  In addition, davidreiss666 is also a moderator of the politics Reddit, he has stated that he wants to ban submissions from Washington’s Blog, and we appear to be censored there, as well.

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  • http://www.misanthropytoday.com Misanthropy Today

    It seems that censorship is only a crime when it comes to something liberal being censored. I think if you asked most liberals if hate speech or “right wing fascist talk” should be censored online and in public they’d agree to it and have all kinds of apologias for why it’s necessary and would promote progress.

    I’m a Redditor but the dearth of tolerance to those with different opinions is really shocking. Many anti-conservative threads read like how a real-life lynching might sound.

  • http://AdditionalBackgroundinformationforthisstory Anonymous Coward

    http://reddit.com/r/PoliticalModeration keeps track of posts removed for apparent political bias.

    The administration of the site itself does not seem complicit, but the vast majority of the “default” sub-reddits are moderated by the same group of people.

  • http://draconisblog.tumblr.com Steve Macintyre

    Free speech zone is placed inside of a caged area. Anybody else see the irony?

  • http://byjakewithlove.com/ Jake Rocheleau

    Reddit does have it’s share of problems with censorship, but to compare it to Digg? That’s going a bit far considering Digg is absolute trash these days

  • LIARSANDHYPOCRITESARELESS THANMEANINGLESS

    hey, you are against censorship, that’s great!

    Then why did you erase my comment last month regarding “copyright piracy” and then “your boy” Rivero ends up posting stories that support every assertion I made

    “truth” sites who censor my comments and others’, which are pretty much all of them, aren’t helping anyone and they hardly justify righteous outrage against censorship by practicing it themselves. In fact, I look forward to trying to get everyone who censors me, censored, when these laws go thru. So you can see how it feels to have people to you that your opinion is “off topic” or “inappropriate”, no matter how many facts it contains.

  • Pumpermast

    So, you steal news from another page.
    You add an useless comment to it and then link your blog post with it on reddit.
    Then you are curious about why it has been deleted.
    Even worse. You open a new post with a conspiracy theory about it.

    All the news you mention above made it to reddit already and they’ve been very popular (you never looked it up….). I can totally understand why your attempts have been downvoted or deleted.
    I would downvote you too.

    Nice try.
    I’ll put you on my personal censor-list so I don’t land here again by mistake.

  • Vanmind

    Reddit can do whatever it wants regarding its site without fear of ever becoming anything like a repressive government. It is their site. It is their business.

    Having said that, thanks for providing this information, because it helps consumers decide whether they want to patronize this particular business model any longer. I have decided in the negative.

  • ButInReality

    This comment thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/y1rlv/people_werent_sure_how_sincere_mitt_romney_was/c5rn4xq?context=3

    …disappeared from the comment page, as seen by each of two computers on two different Internet connections shortly after it was posted. The post disappearing coincided with the “tin foil hat” comment, which has become a favorite for suppression of meaningful dialogue about solving problems.

    Reddit is worse than Digg because while Digg censored it did not present a front of legitimate, open conversation. What makes Reddit dangerous is that people are led to believe that they may have open dialogues when in reality, the system is heavily rigged in the default (most populous) subs.

    Maybe that thread will be restored. Maybe it has been as this is typed. Somehow, I doubt it. A small circle of moderators control the default subs on Reddit, and so they control the opinions of the community. The site has become a shell of what it once was.

  • Shane Rooney

    This isn’t really Reddit doing it then is it, but moderators for popular subreddits… who probably have no connection with the reddit admins? I’m pretty sure you know this but don’t make it evident in your article, seems like purposeful misinformation. Although I agree with your overall statement about censorship being bad.

 

 

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