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1 Sep, 2013 04:25

Reddit moderator pushed for RT ban 'simply because it's Kremlin'

Reddit moderator pushed for RT ban 'simply because it's Kremlin'

The reason RT.com was banned on Reddit’s /r/news section may not be spam or vote manipulation, as was stated officially, but “simply because it’s Kremlin.” This was revealed by a user from his discussion with one of the subreddit’s moderators.

RT.com was banned from /r/news this Thursday on accusations of “spam and vote manipulation”, with no evidence of the violations being presented by the moderators, who said that this information was only for “internal” use. 

The move caused uproar among the reddit users as the drama was then taken to another subforum, /r/worldnews, where several things were eventually revealed. 

Redditor BipolarBear0, who is listed as one of the moderators for the /r/news section, said that no “vote manipulation” ever took place, and that forum's leading moderator douglasmacarthur, who was behind the ban, made “an honest” mistake by making such announcement. 

When another user asked him to clarify if the ban was explained by “just spam of RT.com links,” the moderator’s answer was: “Yeah.”


Responding to Michael Reed, co-founder of the Restore the Fourth movement, in another thread, BipolarBear0 stressed that he wasn’t involved in the current decision to ban RT.com, but added that he had in general been advocating the move: “Simply because… It’s the Kremlin.” 

Form the start, RT has denounced the claims of both spamming and vote manipulation as absurd, viewing the sanctions on its website as an act of censorship by the /r/news moderators. 


This stance was shared by a large number of redditors, with even RT’s usual critics, saying that banning a domain without providing any proof is unjustified.  

Many users refused to believe that the violations were committed as it’s not moderators, but administrators, who deal with spamming issues, and accused /r/news of being prejudiced towards RT.

The others found the timing for the ban suspicious as it coincided with the escalation of events around Syria in anticipation of a US announcement of military intervention in the Middle Eastern country.

Some redditors demanded a ban of douglasmacarthur himself, while a number announced that they are unsuscribing from /r/news as they have lost trust in the section.

The moderators weren’t prepared for such an outcry from the users, who flooded the thread with angry comments, and could only reply with more censorship.

It later appeared that nearly all of the 985 comments posted in the thread had been deleted, with only a handful remaining visible on the site.

RT long on douglasmacarthur’s ban list 

In his post from half a year ago, douglasmacarthur suggested banning a number of domains from the /r/news subreddit, including RT – alongside the Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Gawker, Mashabe, the Raw Story and others. 

The move was explained by his desire to turn /r/news “into the first large news-related subreddit largely free of the alarmism, bias, editorialization, etc.” 

It's noteworthy that after the subject of douglasmacarthur’s ‘media ban list’ was brought up in RT’s previous story on the issue, moderators have wiped the old discussion clean of all comments and the original post, leaving only the headline. The archived copy of the censored thread however can still be found online.


“That a site is listed doesn't mean we're accusing it of being a bad site, or even that it isn't a trustworthy news-related organization. It merely means that much of the content on its website isn't appropriate for the specific purpose of this subreddit, which is to gather factual news content,” the moderator wrote in the opening post. 

To be fair, RT.com was not singled out in any other way, apart from being on the list. The moderator proposed to ban it as according to him, RT.com fell in the same category as the Daily Mail for providing “misleading/sensationalist/unreliable” content. Others, like the Huffington Post, Gawker and the Raw Story were labeled “Blog Spam.”   

Some users were outraged by the intended ban and totally decried it, with douglasmacarthur being forced to “put this project on hold until further notice.”

'Douglasmacarthur caused fall of Restore the Fourth' 

Meanwhile, The Restore the Fourth movement co-founder, Michael Reed, has blamed douglasmacarthur of bringing disorder into the organization, casting some light on the /r/news moderator as a personality.

According to Reed, whose Reddit nickname is RTFMicheal, after douglasmacarthur was granted operator rights at the movement’s IRC channel, he “constantly looked to gain access to additional accounts.”

Reddit is one of the leading social networks. It works by allowing users to submit links from around the Internet, which other users then vote on. The American website, which was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005, has 2.5 million registered users, called the “redditors,” and nearly 70 million unique visitors every month.

On one occasion, he wanted to respond to a Mashable website interview from the official press inbox and when his request was denied, the threats of sabotage followed.   

“He threatened that if he did not gain access, he would tell Mashable and other reporters not to do an article,” RTFMicheal wrote. “This threat set off alarms; anyone that genuinely cared about our cause would not threaten such a thing, especially over something as simple as access to an email.”

The /r/news moderator refused to “shed his veil of anonymity” as he used TOR software, a hosted phone number and was in no hurry to share information about himself, Reed wrote.

After he “connected the dots,” Reed addressed the movement’s core leadership to remove douglasmacarthur from his position, but instead was asked to leave himself – and hasn’t been connected with Restore the Fourth for the last two months.

In his Reddit post, RTFMicheal said that the douglasmacarthur is responsible for “causing the fall of /r/RestoretheFourth,” but in his letter to RT on Saturday he stressed that now “the movement seems to be back on the right track, but has certainly lost a large amount of momentum.”

Restore the Fourth is a grassroots US organization, which sees its aims in strengthening the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and putting an end to the surveillance programs that violate it.

The movement originated on Reddit several days after former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, started his leaks on the US government’s secret surveillance programs. 

Restore the Fourth called for nationwide anti-snooping rallies to protest illegal surveillance techniques. The first rallies were held July 4, followed by “1984 Day” rallies on August 4.