Social media conglomerates like Facebook, Reddit, and Imgur, run the gamut of the political spectrum – anything from the most diehard liberal hippies to the staunchest conservatives.
The difference between Reddit, Imgur, and Facebook is its anonymity. Users don’t have to reveal their identity to anyone unless they choose to.
In fact, the anonymity is key because some users have been accused of being paid by the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns to post political propaganda for the site’s community, in the hopes to gain support for their respective Parties.
One of the obvious ways you can prove these anonymous users were actually paid political posters is to look at the date of the post versus the day they created their profile. If the profile was created on the exact same day, or a day apart from their political post, it is a dead giveaway the user was paid, or at the very least, a robot.
But now we’re finding out that Reddit was clearly biased against Trump supporters.
Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, landed in scorching hot water recently after admitting he used his administrative powers to secretly edit user comments that were critical of him on r/The_Donald — a popular, pro-Trump forum (or “subreddit”).
Huffman swapped all mentions of his own username with the names of the pro-Trump group’s leaders, meaning that expletive-laden posts aimed at him looked instead as if they were insulting the group’s leaders.
Huffman told The Washington Post Friday by phone,
“It was not a good idea. I abused my power to give the bullies a hard time.”
He initially thought of his name swapping as a joke. It was a way to poke back at the people who had been harassing him and some of the site’s volunteer moderators for months.
Of course, it was not taken that way.
Huffman’s admission fanned the flames of controversy which had been surrounding the Donald Trump subreddit and its relationship with Reddit for months.
According to The Washington Post:
“Huffman told The Post that he had been letting the abuse from the subreddit’s users roll off him, but then wondered whether turning the other cheek was setting a bad example. ‘If The Donald had done this to another Reddit employee, I would have banned them,’ he said.
He said he intended to swap the names for just a few hours — even though doing so violates Reddit employee policies — just to give the subreddit’s moderators a taste of what he goes through on a daily basis. Then, he said, he intended to put everything back.
Still, the decision to step in and directly edit user comments was a surprising move from Huffman, who has often said Reddit’s purpose is to provide a place for communities of all stripes to set up their own groups.”
Forgetting the hypocrisy, what Reddit’s CEO has done is completely destroyed its website’s credibility and also condemns free speech.
In fact, what makes it so popular is its uninhibited free speech as an anonymous social media site that allows its users to conceal their identities and communicate with one another in discussion groups, known as subreddits. This is why Facebook is grossly unpopular with Reddit users.
Reddit has become a place for protected, anonymous communication of ideas that some might find hard to express in mainstream venues, as well as degrading comments and images that some complain have attacked or exploited women and minorities.
But Huffman’s actions have shown that Reddit isn’t a place of free speech anymore. It’s regulated “free” speech now.
Of course, Huffman did confess to this distrusting behavior because he was trying to salvage any remaining semblance of trust he has with the community on Reddit, but it might be too little, too late.