Reddit recently banned all anti-vaccine posts. R/NoNewNormal was the first casualty. The move came after massive protests against the platform’s reluctance to take action. Covid misinformation was the main agenda in the protests.
In a release titled “COVID denialism and policy classification,” the platform’s administration made the announcement. They quarantined some 54 Covid denial subreddits. This was part of the platform’s move to contain the situation.
They banned NoNewNormal for brigading and not the misinformation. Targeted interference of members of one subreddit in another subreddit is brigading. The company’s CEO defended their slow approach towards the matter.
He described Reddit as a democratic platform where they respect individual views. He explained how Reddit’s policies evolve every day. They quarantined a subreddit called CoronavirusConspiracy for poor moderation.
The Quarantined Subreddits Breached Reddit Rules
According to Reddit’s management, they effected the quarantine due to the subject’s failure to obey its rules. Reddit prohibits harassment, bullying, and incitement posting. It also prohibits the promotion of hate against groups.
The released post did not name the quarantined subreddits. It must be for fear of giving them more traffic. Even the platforms spokesperson too declined to name them. They will be accessible to users, although after seeing warning signs and opting in.
Reddit also announced plans for the development of key features. They would allow moderators to blow the whistle on community interference. The feature will, however, take time to develop.
The Management Resisted At First
Reddit made the move weeks after the protest began. Reddit resisted the move at first, but the pressure was too much. Moderators from 4500 subreddits joined in on an open letter to press for action after some time. Reddit had to take action against the rampant misinformation on their site.
They described the subreddits as platforms dedicated to misinformation. They also accused them of undermining global pandemic combating efforts. Reddit responded by stating that it has tolerance to debate. Most notably on vaccines and covid if it challenges common views. Over 150 subreddits temporarily went private to pressure Reddit. The primary demand of the protestors was an action against R/NoNewNormal. They accused Reddit of cordoning the rampant misinformation about covid.
COVID- Denial Content Was On The Rise
An employee, a moderator, edited Reddit’s post. It talked about their efforts to enforce their policies on the platform’s usage. It stated that their policies evolve every day with users in mind. The post mentioned some of the content the platform took down for many reasons.
According to Reddit, around 2.5% of all covid-related content involved many reports about harmful content. This was proof enough of the sudden rise in covid-denial posts on the platform
Reddit investigated some high-ranking subreddits. They realized that the content represented about 3% of the content. This was higher than last year’s 1%.
Reddit Had To Clarify It’s Misinformation Rules
Reddit’s announcement also included an explanation of its policies regarding misinformation. The rules prohibit posts that could result in physical harm to others. To explain it further, suppose a post describing a treatment for cancer that would harm users. They will flag this post down.
They consider wrong any content, especially health-related that could result in physical harm. This content rule did not cover all misinformation content, however. This is not new with big platforms. Reddit promised to continue the crackdown on false and harmful content.
They will not spare even other communities like those with interest in fraud. The fraud-related communities fight against things like fake vaccine cards. The management threatened to pull down any content manipulated to mislead.
This rule covers even content from recognized sources like WHO that third parties have manipulated. Interference with other Reddit communities is now grounds for quarantine.
Any attempt to create inauthentic conversations will lead to automatic pull-down or quarantine. This is just a reinforcement of the existing anti-brigading rules.
What Was NoNewNormal?
NoNewNormal began in 2020, around June. It has over 122,000 subscribers. These subscribers described themselves as free-thinkers. Its description talks about the need to resist the new normal. It considers it a little too creepy.
The numbers are deceiving, trust me, the subreddit is very active. It received more than 10,000 comments and 900 comments daily. It earned a place in the upper echelon of active subreddits.
The content shared on NoNewNormal is mostly about fighting against the mask-wearing rules. It has in recent years rose in popularity with the questioning of whether people were dying of covid. They spread anti-vaccination campaigns.
Some moderators defended the subreddits against accusations of misinformation. They described the subreddits as platforms where people could air their views. Covid was the main topic.
They claim their goal was to remain non-partisan. However, they would strive to return things as they were before COVID happened. Promoting the free exchange of ideas is their motive.
People have different views regarding covid and the measures taken by governments. People are using online platforms to vent their anger or offer praises. These posts have become so popular that the public is taking them to be trustworthy news.
The sources of this information or misinformation realized this and turned these platforms into tools to pass their ideas. The stories told on Reddit could be true or false, but the fact remains, they are not verified.
The fact that people believe them makes them very dangerous. The public is unaware of what is going on,therefore, this makes them prone to misinformation. Reddit decided to ban NoNewNormal with their users in mind.
The massive protest played a role in the decision too. Although the quarantined subreddits are still active, they have weakened them in some way.
It is always essential to verify credibility. Not all information is worth consuming. The misinformation about covid caused deaths or worsened the situation.