Imagine waking up to discover that the Russian government had censored one of the most popular websites in the world because of a post you submitted. It's exactly what happened to one Reddit user who, two years after posting instructions on how to grow hallucinogenic mushrooms, found out he had infuriated the Kremlin to the point that it took the website offline Wednesday.
Roskomnadzor, the Russian government's Internet watchdog and primary censor, warned earlier this week that Reddit will be taken offline for many Russian Internet users unless it responds to its inquiries, or removes an unspecified thread about narcotics. Roskomnadzor carried through on that threat Wednesday, blocking the page in question. Because the site uses the HTTPS encryption protocol, which forbids a single page from being blocked, 30 percent of Russian Internet providers will completely block all of Reddit.
“Two years ago I tested how [Roskomnadzor] reacts to abuse on popular websites. One of those websites was Reddit,” Reddit user rscofan wrote, according to a translation, explaining that the agency took steps to try to avoid a full site blockade. “Will I remove this post? No. I also think Reddit's administration needs to do nothing. This is an important issue on freedom of speech, and only Roskomnadzor wants to violate it.”
Russian Redditors who suddenly find themselves in the dark can still access Reddit with proxy services, virtual private networks or the anonymity software Tor. Tor's popularity has exploded in Russia since Vladimir Putin retook the presidency in 2012.