Reddit communities ‘darken’ to protest Covid disinformation | Reddit
Reddit has been hit by a user rebellion over the online discussion forum’s failure to tackle disinformation related to Covid and vaccines.
More than 135 Reddit communities, or subreddits, have “gone dark,” preventing non-members from reading or joining the page, to protest the site’s refusal to limit discussions that propagate misleading theories about the pandemic. The event covers many of the site’s biggest subtitles, including r / Futurology and r / TIFU, which each have over 10 million subscribers.
A post on the r / Futurology forum said “people are dying from disinformation” related to the coronavirus. “Futurology has gone private to protest Reddit’s inaction in the face of Covid-19 disinformation,” the post read. “Militarized disinformation is a key issue shaping our future. Reddit will not enforce its policies against disinformation, brigading, and spam.
Defending the site’s approach, Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman wrote in an article last week that the site was a place of “open and genuine discussion.” He said, “Dissent is part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy. Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate. This includes conversations that question or disagree with popular consensus. “
The r / PokemonGo subreddit, representing players in the augmented reality game, announced that it is going dark and will remain private until Reddit removes sites spreading disinformation about Covid. “We have gone private to protest Reddit’s inaction against Covid disinformation. As our users know, Covid has a direct impact on this game as Go is played outdoors in real life with others.
The post added that the group had recently supported protests against the developer of Pokémon Go after announcing plans to roll back security measures implemented at the start of the pandemic last year.
One of the Reddit communities cited by the protesting groups, r / NoNewNormal, has been “quarantined” by the site, meaning that Reddit has flagged its content as having the potential to be “very offensive or upsetting” and preventing it from appearing on the site. normal home page.
The r / NoNewNormal forum, which has 124,000 subscribers and contains posts warning against taking Covid vaccines, describes itself as “a diverse international coalition with the common goal of restoring our old ways of life before the world does.” falls into the grip of fear and hysteria ”. A message published on Tuesday said: “To be anti-[vaccine] mandate is not anti-science, it is pro-freedom, pro-choice.
Research from the UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate published this year found that the vast majority of Covid-19 vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories came from 12 people – including the descendant from the Kennedy family, Robert F Kennedy Jr – with a combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms.
The CCDH analyzed 812,000 Facebook posts and tweets and found that just under two-thirds came from the so-called dozen misinformation. Facebook said it has already taken action against some of the groups mentioned in the report, while Kennedy said it never posted an inaccurate statement on his Instagram account.