Reddit Censorship? Russia Today (RT) Cries Foul Over /R/News Ban, But Reddit Says Blame The Moderator

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RT, Russia’s state-backed news organization, is crying foul after its website was banned from one of Reddit’s most popular forums.

In a blog post on Friday, RT blasted the popular vote-oriented message board, saying it had been kicked off the /r/news subreddit for alleged spamming and vote manipulation. The news outlet said it “views the sanctions as an act of censorship.”  

Not so, says Reddit. Victoria Taylor, a spokeswoman for the website, told International Business Times in an email that subreddit moderators make their own decisions about what content is allowed on their forums. Reddit, she said, had no role in this particular decision.  

“[I]t is the prerogative of each individual subreddit’s moderators (like /r/news) to allow or ban domains, users, posts, comments, etc as they wish,” Taylor said. “As we are not moderators of /r/news, we were not involved or consulted on this decision.”

On Thursday, Reddit user douglasmacarthur, a head moderator for /r/news, posted that RT had been banned for spam and vote manipulation. The post has since attracted almost 1,000 comments, many critical of the decision to ban a news site from a news forum. 

“Censorship amuck and fair reporting is gone from reddit,” one user wrote.

Reddit is well known for its stringent, site-wide anti-spam guidelines, which are meant to prevent visitors from using the site to promote articles to which they have personal ties. The website has no exact definition of spam, but according to its guidelines, users who post links to sites they own or are affiliated with should consider themselves on “thin ice.”

That policy, combined with Reddit’s system of letting users vote articles up, has resulted in a relatively unfiltered exercise in online democracy, with mundane posts from everyday users often sharing prime real estate with articles about major news events. (The top article on the site as of Friday afternoon was from a user who posted photos of herself with chickenpox.)

The rules are not without their critics, however. Some bloggers have accused the Reddit system of being unfriendly to original content creators, as the Daily Dot noted earlier this month.    

Reddit, which is owned by the privately held Advance Publications Inc., says in its guidelines that users who disagree with a moderator’s choices are free to start competing subreddits.

And some do. As of Friday afternoon, the new subreddit /r/uncensorednews, described as a “censorship-free version of /r/news,” had 512 subscribers. The original has more than 1.1 million.

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