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:
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*:
- Iran’s Head Religious Leader: The Production, Possession, Use or Threatened Use of Nuclear Weapons Is a “Great Sin”
Reddit filtered the stories out, and moderator davidreiss666 said:
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.