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Policy: Technology

Reddit punishes technology community for censoring 'NSA,' 'Snowden' and 'Bitcoin' links

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Ashe Schow,Reddit,Technology

Social-sharing website reddit has punished the subreddit r/technology for censoring posted links containing words like “National Security Agency,” “Edward Snowden” and even “Bitcoin.”

R/technology is no longer listed as a default subreddit, meaning new users won’t be automatically subscribed to it upon creating a username. It also means that users who are logged out won’t see links from the subreddit on the homepage.

"We decided to remove /r/technology from the default list because the moderation team lost focus of what they were there to do: moderate effectively," Reddit's Communications Director Victoria Taylor told the BBC.

Following the removal of r/technology from the default listing, one of the subreddit's moderators, Pharnaces_II, posted an apology for the ongoing, secret censorship, calling the situation a “disaster.”

“As many of you are aware the moderators of this subreddit have failed you. The lack of transparency in our moderation resulted in a system where submissions from a wide variety of topics were automatically deleted by /u/AutoModerator. While the intent of this system was, to the extent of my knowledge, not malicious it ended up being a disaster. We messed up, and we are sorry.”

Two moderators were removed from the subreddit.

The apology didn’t sit well with some on the website, who claimed the remaining moderators pushed all the blame onto the two moderators that left.

The de facto ban on certain words was discovered by reddit user creq, who noticed a surprising lack of links on the subreddit relating to common technology issues.

One of r/technonoly's moderators, agentlame, told the Internet-community news website The Daily Dot that creq's list was not “entirely correct,” although he wouldn't say why.

The subreddit now allows the censored words to be used again.

R/technology is the first subreddit to be removed from the default list since last July, when popular subreddits r/atheism and r/politics were removed for being too controversial.

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Author:

Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner