In a dramatic – dare I say thrilling – new move, everyone’s favourite online rabbit hole, Reddit, has made the decision to shut down its primary community for those identifying with the so-called “alt-right”.
The group, or subreddit, – r/altright – is known, although sadly not distinctive, for its slew of provocative, often hateful remarks about minority groups, with many championing views that correspond to a narrative of white supremacy. And while Reddit is known for a reasonably laid-back approach to moderation, the subreddit’s demise is plain to see: “This community has been banned” reads an emboldened statement, going on to proclaim tersely that: “This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information.”
Gizmodo gained insight from one of Reddit’s “powermods”, who informed them of the subreddit’s reportedly nefarious undertakings, saying: “they were encouraging users to go to some kind of ‘bounty’ site, where users collaborate to attempt to gather personal information on targets.” Sinister doesn’t really begin to cover it, then.
If the rumours are true, it seems this is case of history repeating itself; in a mirror-image case of the alt-right launching something akin to a witch hunt, and seeing themselves shut down by online titans, the website WeSearchr was recently suspended from Twitter for launching a dubious vigilante mission to identify and expose the man who punched a US alt-right leader.
The subreddit’s monitors had inflated the group’s member count, adding three zeros to the end of a subscriber count that heralded a purported seven million members. So the statistics on how many enraged redditors will be joining the ranks of fellow banned abusive subreddits (r/fatpeoplehate being a famous example) aren’t, perhaps, the most reliable.
But in the true whack-a-mole spirit of the internet, it seems alt-righters of the world need not despair, as Reddit copycat Voat is housing a pop-up site in its r/absence. Meanwhile, the overtures on r/subredditdrama were largely positive, with one user parodying the refrain “First they came after…”, listing the “fat people haters” and “racists”, concluding, to rapturous support: “Then, they didn’t come after me because I’m not a hateful little s***goblin. Turns out they were just going after awful people and things are much better now.”