A video from The Rubin Report discussing the growing culture of censorship on U.S. campuses was recently censored by a moderator on Reddit, despite its popularity among users.
Reddit is divided into user-created communities called ‘subreddits,’ where users share links and start discussion threads. Some of these subreddits have tens of millions of subscribers and receive more views per day than many news websites. Biased moderation on large subreddits can therefore have a significant impact on the flow of information.
One such subreddit is /r/videos, a community with over 9 million subscribers. Earlier this week, a video from stand-up comedian and talk show host Dave Rubin was posted to the subreddit. The video discussed the recent outbreak of politically correct purges on U.S. campuses. It was a hit with users, who quickly voted the video to the top of the page.
However, the video was then removed by a Reddit moderator. The deletion was logged by /r/undelete, a Reddit community that tracks acts of censorship on large subreddits. The video can be watched in full below:
The moderator’s stated reason for removing the video was an alleged violation of /r/videos’ ban on political content. The rule states, “Political videos—including satire and videos related to current political figures— or anything related to politics from the last 10 years, should be submitted to /r/politics, /r/worldpolitics, etc.”
Speaking to Breitbart Tech, a moderator explained that without the rule, the subreddit would be flooded by political content. “We have a ‘No Politics’ rule in place in order to keep one specific type of content from dominating and overrunning our subreddit. And as you can see, even with the rule, people are still trying to push that content. One of the few ways we can address the quality of content is through content diversity and our ‘No Politics’ rule is instrumental in that.”
The moderator acknowledged that political content was popular on the subreddit, and revealed that an alternative solution for users who want to submit political videos was “currently in the works.”
He also apologised for the confusion over The Rubin Report’s video, stating that the subreddit had just added a number of new moderators, who were still adjusting to their role.
On the subject of selective censorship, the moderator said, “sometimes a topic can become politicized and we might be slow to catch it or they may slip through the cracks (we’re only human volunteers doing this in our free time, many of us aren’t even American so what might be considered political to one moderator, might not be for another).” Nevertheless, he stressed that “hard” political submissions would always be removed when spotted by moderators, regardless of their political or ideological leaning.
Moderator positions give Reddit users the power to delete or ban content on particular subreddits. Because so much traffic flows through the site, control of a large subreddit can mean the difference between driving ten thousand hits to Breitbart or ten thousand hits to Salon.
As such, moderator positions are highly sought after for individuals and groups with political agendas. Progressive groups on subreddits like /r/ShitRedditSays are known for aggressive takeover attempts at large subreddits, which tend to be followed by a lurch towards politically-biased moderation. The appointment of new moderators on large subreddits is therefore closely watched by Reddit’s anti-censorship subreddits.
The post containing the video from Dave Rubin has since been restored to /r/videos.