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26 Jun, 2019 21:47

Reddit ‘quarantines’ popular pro-Trump forum hours before 1st Democratic debate

Reddit ‘quarantines’ popular pro-Trump forum hours before 1st Democratic debate

A popular Reddit page created in President Donald Trump’s honor was slapped with new restrictions due to alleged threats against authorities. The move comes hours ahead of the first Democratic presidential debate.

The 750,000-member Reddit group devoted to all things Trump, r/The_Donald, was hit with a “quarantine” on Wednesday, which will make the page more difficult for users to find on the website and impossible to access on mobile devices.

Reddit said it was forced to respond to threats of violence made by users in the group against Oregon police officers, ordered by the state’s governor to forcibly round up Republican Senators for a contentious climate change vote.

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“Over the last few months we have observed repeated rule-breaking behavior in your community,” including “content that encourages or incites violence,” Reddit wrote in a message to the group’s moderators. Most recently, it added, that behavior had taken the form of “encouragement of violence towards police officers and public officials in Oregon.”

While Reddit acknowledged the page’s moderators regularly “remove posts that are reported,” it insisted violence-inciting content was still being shared in the group – “and worse, [it] is upvoted,” the platform said.

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One of the site’s several moderators, who posts under the username shadowman3001, challenged the decision and said the move was motivated by politics, not content guidelines. 

“It would seem they've set up an impossible standard as a reason to kill us before the 2020 election,” the mod said on Reddit.

Others affiliated with the subreddit cast suspicion on left-wing advocacy group Media Matters, and pointed out the odd timing of the website’s decision.

Reddit says it quanantines pages to ensure potentially offensive content stays off of Reddit’s homepage and other highly trafficked areas, such as the site’s “Popular” section, but some users said they were blocked from accessing the group altogether.

Conservative journalist Jack Posobiec shared a video clip of what happened when he tried to access the subreddit from a mobile device. (Spoiler: he couldn’t.)

The new restriction comes amid a surge in social media censorship, with mass bannings and “purges” taking place across several popular platforms, including the coordinated banishment of certain provocative figures. InfoWars’ Alex Jones was thrown off Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the space of a few months, while conservative gadflies Milo Yiannopolous, Laura Loomer and others have faced similar treatment.

Though the purges appear to have disproportionately targeted conservatives, Facebook in May also removed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has ties to the Democratic Party.

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President Trump himself has even suggested that his reach is deliberately limited by social media platforms.

“What they did to me on Twitter is incredible,” the president told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. “I have, you know, millions and millions of followers, but they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter,” adding “it’s totally biased toward Democrats.”

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