After the #ModTalkLeaks took off on social media and managed to get a lot of people talking about the politicization and censorship of various sub-Reddits across the popular social discussion site, those in power at Reddit made sure that they shutdown discussion about the topic wherever they could and in whatever way they could without completely stripping sub-Reddit moderators of all their power. Nevertheless, it hasn’t stopped the whistleblower for Reddit’s behind-the-scenes puppeteering from going unnoticed and unresolved.
Xavier Mendel, a former moderator of /r/Games who partook in the IRC mod chats for Reddit’s moderation and administration staff typed up an open letter about the reformation of Reddit’s current oligarchy that governs and controls what can and cannot be discussed on site… even when it’s something the people crave.
Over on Reddit, various boards – where the moderators are adjacent in the belief that the idea for fighting against censorship and for the freedom of expression is a noble cause – have allowed a pastebin containing a missive from Mendel to float around, which states…
“Over the past year there have been a great many revelations about this community. Whether it was a user revealing a cabal of moderators attempting to control the website or a leaker revealing the contempt many moderators hold for users, we have witnessed one thing: the truth. Truth hurts, but only the guilty will feel its sting. The innocent and ethical see it as a great power for good, while the corrupt do anything they can to hide. Every lie is uncovered eventually, and throughout this year we have seen evidence of that. Even still however, the corrupt cling to their positions of imagined power and fight the crowds to remain in control of their make believe kingdoms. Whistleblowers are threatened into silence, and those that talk of the information they provide are shadowbanned. Entire communities are wiped from existence, and its users are attacked mercilessly for having the audacity to ask questions. Through any means neccessary the opponents of these groups are silenced.”
What Mendel is referring to is the large swathe of censorship swipes and shadowbans handed out over the course of the recent year. It all really kicked into high gear with the advent of #GamerGate, where corruption in the media was laid bare after it was discovered a journalist slept with a subject, provided positive coverage on a couple of occasions and never disclosed it. From there, a snowball of ethical breaches coagulated under the GamerGate hashtag; fueled by revelations of the Game Journo Pros and personal relationships between developers and journalists that satiated the conspiracy theorists’ belief that games media have become too close to their own subjects.
What followed from the initial revelations of corruption was a swift act of censorship from many established gaming websites, forums and social media platforms such as Reddit. The leaks from ModTalk revealed that there was indeed collusion to silence #GamerGate at all costs.
Mendel goes on to say…
“It doesn’t stop at a few dozen moderators. The more you look the more these small connections start to appear. Moderators trading favors, even outside of reddit, among friends. Moderators making deals with journalists to shame or get back at their enemies. Moderators colluding with news and political outlets for their own gain. Administrators shadowbanning users for speaking up, or shadowbanning whistleblowers for revealing inconvenient truths. Administrators playing politics with millions of readers. Administrators who lie just because they can. This is an interconnected network of people who spend their days manipulating others for their own gain.”
Is this not the same thing that kickstarted #GamerGate into being? Censorship from sites that gamers once trusted? Censorship from sites they thought they could freely use to discuss and communicate ideas? The issue even spans beyond #GamerGate, as the ModTalk leaks revealed that news and politics were also heavily steered by the corrupt moderators and administrators of Reddit. It was revealed that even ideas that you thought could be shared to be discussed freely, for better or for worse, were hewn into a form of discussion that was fed through the powers that be. Sites, sources and topics are screened and funneled out when the content isn’t seen fit to reside on Reddit, as revealed by the leaks.
According to Mendel, tens of thousands are standing up against this kind behavior; he writes…
“we’re not asking anymore. This is a demand for change. Included with this letter is a sheet for you all to sign. Signing it shows your commitment to stand with the ideas presented in this letter. You commit to help change reddit, and further it as an oasis of transparency and personal freedom. Your subreddits will be champions of respect, free speech, transparency, accountability, and ethics. You will not censor opinions that go against your own, or insult your users and those that want your help, or cover up the actions of any moderator or administrator, or hide the truth from those that seek it.”
What started as a mockery of journalism in the form of a harassment narrative devised by games media, parroted by the uncouth behavior of mainstream media and depicted in visual fiction by television media, has now become a recognized movement across the internet with people fed up with clickbait culture and outrage propaganda.
One way of taking back control of the freedom of discussion is ousting the corrupt, labeling the misdeeds of those who deserve to lose the thrones from which they sit, and the scepters they use to decree their desires of censorship. As Mendel points out, their time is at an end, and it can come at the hands of those they sought to oppress and control….
“[…] with the userbase of reddit becoming more aware of the issues that plague the community around them. We’re all waiting for something good to happen, and soon it will. These coming days will be the tipping point from which the future of reddit is determined.
“Moderators, I ask that you sign below indicating your support. It will not go unnoticed. The corrupt few will hate you, but the masses of the innocent will sing your praises. Share the letter and ask others to sign as well. If you are truly an ethical person then you will see no problem in what signing it entails. The corrupt, the tyrannical, the liars, they’re the ones that have to worry.“
You can learn more about various aspects of Reddit’s corruption in a nice little thread over on /r/Undelete. It’s worth checking out if you have the time to spare.
(Main image courtesy of The Fine Young Capitalists)