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Reddit Bans Subreddits Related To Selling Guns, Drugs, Sex, and More (bloomberg.com) 277

New submitter cornholed writes: Yesterday, Reddit updated their Content Policy forbidding transactions for certain goods and services. From the formal announcement on Reddit: "As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including: firearms, ammunition, or explosives; drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with our advertising policy); paid services involving physical sexual contact; stolen goods; personal information; falsified official documents or currency." Bloomberg has an interesting write-up on how Reddit is wading into the gun control debate. See this post on Reddit for a full-list of all subreddits banned. "Reddit has been something of a Wild West for users building communities by curating and commenting on content in subreddits," reports Bloomberg. "Sometimes, as in the case with gun sales, marketplaces emerge in the course of conversations within specific communities. With Reddit's increased popularity -- the site is the sixth-most-visited in the world -- has come introspection and stricter content guidelines. The company recognizes its responsibility for having provided a platform for hate groups to flourish and, more recently, the possibility that Russian propaganda on the site may have played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election."
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Reddit Bans Subreddits Related To Selling Guns, Drugs, Sex, and More

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  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @06:53PM (#56309093)
    USENET is/was a purely peer-to-peer system with no effective censorship. The downside to this, of course, was massive quantities of spam, which killed it. If someone could effectively solve the spam issue without censoring...
    • If someone could effectively solve the spam issue without censoring...

      I think that's what's called a paradox.

      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:01PM (#56309173)

        It just needs a moderation protocol on top of it. Let people subscribe to what ever moderation service they want to read USENET with.

        • It just needs a moderation protocol on top of it. Let people subscribe to what ever moderation service they want to read USENET with.

          You'll still get people whining about censorship, just as they did whne Twitter (or some 3rd party for twitter) did something similar.

          • Ah but that's the beauty of it though. You can just us a moderation service that filters out whining and spam.
            • At some point, could the quantity of spam overwhelm any third-party moderation service? i.e. if the signal-noise ratio was made 1:10000 by spammers, on the principle that sending spam is basically free, and 1 in 1000 spam messages will evade filters.
              • Most nntp servers have hooks for hooks to check content.

                Just make sure that every post is at an 8th grade reading level.

                Offer paid 'moderation services'. For $1/month you can get a 'white list' of comments to fetch and read and all of the spam gets modded immediately at -10 because they don't.

                Or this: https://xkcd.com/810/ [xkcd.com]

          • Then they can unsubscribe from that 'moderation server' and subscribe to another one.

            Everyone talking at once in one place would be great, let people choose what filter they want to see the world through.

          • People whining about censorship. In this case you'd get people whining about the lack of censorship. I need someone else to ensure I don't see anything which might be ugly or disagree with my worldview. I wonder how soon before some one sues Caltrans for there be an accident on the freeway. Not in the sense of there being an accident but that they had to witness the 'horror' and tragedy of real life and were forever damaged because of it...

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            ggAutoBlock was decried as censorship and persecution, even though it was entirely voluntary. The creator was harassed. Creating and maintaining such lists is going to be a thankless, punishing task.

      • If someone could effectively solve the spam issue without censoring...

        I think that's what's called a paradox.

        Shitty people ruin good things for everyone. News at 11.

      • More precisely an "oxymoron" :D

    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:54PM (#56309557)

      What we need is Catered censors ---- In other words, censors who are Approved by the group they are censoring, For example:
        in a "Gun Sales forum" --- the censors would act according to the wishes of THAT community and not be subject to the OVERALL Public opinion or scrutiny by a Corporate overlord, And then: effective means in place of monitoring the usage and cancelling or revoking the censorship powers in the event that one of the approved censors becomes rogue and starts going against the desires of THAT PARTICULAR community.

      PROBABLY the idea would be to have a means of marking spam so it's hidden by default, But concerned citizens can turn on an advanced feature and see all the "Deleted" or "Censored" messages.

      • by zieroh ( 307208 )

        Isn't this essentially what reddit already has? Community moderators on a per-subreddit basis?

        • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @08:15PM (#56309667)

          Isn't this essentially what reddit already has? Community moderators on a per-subreddit basis?

          Yes... Unfortunately reddit also has Site Admins who can exercise independent authority over any Post, Article, and can even destroy an entire Sub. And the unwanted censorship actions are coming from the Global Site Admins group, not the moderators.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Such sites already exist, e.g. Voat will continue to allow this content and is largely community moderated.

        Sometimes it works, sometimes the lack of detached, outside influence leads to bizarre little enclaves where things get more and more extreme due to a kind of feedback loop.

    • Usenet is not dead.
      However it is usually a payed service of your ISP to connect to it.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A GUI over Usenet and IRC? With a web cam and mic? Encrypted P2P?
      Its all in the GUI.
      The more a brand attempts to support SJW by banning content, the more the internet gets creative to move around the SJW censorship brands.
    • It's still alive, but not popular as before. :)

  • by asdfman2000 ( 701851 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @06:58PM (#56309137)
    A lot of these have dropped in the last few days.

    YouTube Bans Firearms Demo Videos [slashdot.org]
    Citi sets restrictions on gun sales by retail clients [reuters.com] by adding arbitrary rules (can only sell to 21+ years-old, no standard capacity magazines, etc)
    • "Citi said that in addition to the policy for new clients, it is starting talks with current clients on their practices and if they do not adopt changes the bank will help “transition their business away from Citi.”

      From a financial standpoint this would be called shooting themselves in the foot.

      Cracks me up when talking about an anti-gun policy.

    • by sd4f ( 1891894 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:43PM (#56309489)

      It's definitely trying to make the news cycle, and if there are any lessons to be learnt from gamergate, it's being orchestrated, and, I'm not surprised to see some of the same companies involved again.

      The rhyme of history is sounding again. When the printing press was invented in Europe, it didn't take long for establishments to see that sharing information was not always in their interests, books got banned, notably political ones. I think we're just in a similar phase as then; some companies are taking it on themselves to consolidate and control what gets shared.

      • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @09:01PM (#56309947)

        You figured it out. It's those damned bow and arrow makers who are behind the conspiracy to get guns banned in order to drive up their sales!

    • Is it a response to this [slate.com], passed by the Senate 2 days ago?

      What happened instead is the FOSTA-SESTA package, in which House lawmakers have incorporated the worst provisions of both bills in ways aimed at making internet companies more subject to prosecution and lawsuits and more prone to censor users' speech online.

      According to the EFF [t.co]:

      SESTA/FOSTA will silence online speech by forcing Internet platforms to censor their users.

      • by pots ( 5047349 )
        Yes, probably. That bill is specifically about prostitution, but it mandates review and censorship of user-submitted content. So since these companies are implementing those processes anyway, they're likely trying to fend off further regulation by getting ahead of the censorship curve.

        The fact that they're targeting guns isn't really surprising, that most recent Florida shooting is still a pretty hot topic.
    • I think the problem is, the government is letting shootings slide. I mean, earlier this week was another one, much smaller but still, it happened.

      When there was a democrat in the house, he could say grand things, knowing that Congress would never approve it. But at least He Was Doing Something About It. He managed to work both sides quite well - make the big evil Republicans the reason he can't pass anything, and at the same time, gun owners were nervous, so every time they'd buy more guns, simulating the economy more.

      Now that the entire government is republican controlled, there is no more excuse. Trump can't say he can't do anything about it because Congress won't let him, and everyone knows he loves his executive orders and he's famous for his Get Things Done attitude.

      Problem is, he didn't. He made some noise about it, and let it peter it. Then it happened again. And people are at their breaking point. Businesses see that, they realize that it isn't business as usual and they need to Do Something to appeal to the silent majority who do want some form of dun control. (I believe the stats have it around 75% or more. It seems less, but the NRA has a whole pile of money they spend buying politicians and in fact, if one wavers in their support, all that money suddenly goes to their opponent.

      The political climate has shifted, and businesses are simply stepping into the vacuum, realizing that while the NRA business is nice, it's not actually necessary, and they get a nice PR boost from being seen as Doing Something.

      As long as mass shootings keep continuing to happen (and there's no indication it's going to stop), this is going to get worse. As long as the guy in the White House does everything else other than be seen doing something about the issue, companies are going to reconsider their support. The irony is, the NRA may have one the battle (Trump does nothing), but they might lose the war (popular opinion turns against gun owners, even being brandished as idiots of a barbaric age).

      As long as kids are dying in the streets, no amount of tariffs or trade wars matter.

  • Meh, meh, meh (Score:2, Redundant)

    by bursch-X ( 458146 )
    voat.co
    • No thanks.
    • Re:Meh, meh, meh (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:44PM (#56309495)

      Voat is contaminated by the racist fuckheads who went there after Reddit purged them. Now any self-respecting person who goes there comes back looking for the clear history button in their browsers.

      Better to let that one be and find another alternative instead.

      • by zieroh ( 307208 )

        Better to let that one be and find another alternative instead.

        The problem with any given alternative is that the people who get pushed out of established communities tend to be the ones that were already on the fringe. Thus, any alternative community has a very high fringe-nutjob-to-levelheaded ratio by simple virtue of how said alternative community came into being.

  • Now all they need.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:13PM (#56309269)

    Is to ban the sale of rock and roll.

    • Maybe that would give it back some of the edge it lost over the decades. Rock 'n' roll used to be the devil's music, corrupting our youth and leading them drinking, smoking the Mary J and having pre-marital sex.

      Now it's just the same crap as everything else, being played on corporate radio, completely toothless and lacking any sort of passion and righteous anger.

      I'm not a huge fan of black metal (more into death/doom/power), but I think those freaks have a point. Make music dangerous again.

  • 1956 redux ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock.poetic@com> on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:30PM (#56309389)

    Those born before Netflix might remember network TV shows with bland family content where you never see naked people or hear swearing. When Lucy, of 'I Love Lucy', got pregnant, she was not allowed to be seen on screen in that condition. We listened to Lawrence Welk music and saw the art of Norman Rockwell on magazine covers. We waved the flag on 4th of July and cheered for our baseball team and joined Boy Scouts. Yes, youngsters, that was life before the internet. We had to read National Geographic magazine to see naked people.

    But why was that so? Because of the Religious Right. Because of the Moral Majority. Because of Puritans who ran the country. But mostly because of advertising sponsors who were afraid to be associated with anything 'immoral'.

    We now swim in porn of all kinds with Game of Thrones and other films by Amazon, Netflix and other new media innovators. We have chat rooms where we are free to swear and say outrageous things. We freely criticize politicians and corporations and media and each other. The internet has freed us from Moral Morons and Patriotic Pimps and Advertising Assholes who suppressed free thought since the Dark Ages.

    But it's happening again. The Wild West internet is gradually coming under the thumb of the Pompous Puritans. Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit are shutting down free speech bit by bit. And yes it's largely due to advertising sponsors and partly due to threats by governments around the world.

    Was Reddit the last major bastion of Free Speech? Is the internet going to become as bland and mindless as 1956 television?

    • Re:1956 redux ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @08:23PM (#56309723)

      But it's happening again. The Wild West internet is gradually coming under the thumb of the Pompous Puritans. Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit are shutting down free speech bit by bit.

      What about the free speech rights of Facebook or Twitter or Reddit? As much as I despise at least one of those corporations, I have to concede that those corporations also have the right to free speech, namely the right to control what appears on their platform. It's their platform -- we're all just guests there. To put the free speech rights of the guests above the owners of those platforms is to rob them of their rights.

      I appreciate the argument, and the desire to have free speech. But one person's free speech cannot infringe on someone else's.

      • Corporations have no free speech "rights", check your constitution.
        And then again "free speech" is not what you think it is. It only means the government can not harass/punish/imprison you for what you said AGAINST that government.
        You still are not free to insult other citizens or call for violence, your legislation who has to file a case and who can prosecute it, may vary.

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          Re "Corporations have no free speech "rights", check your constitution."
          When a brand opens a forum for political talk to the wider public some state laws do get interesting.
          The US constitution prevents the US government from stopping speech.
          State laws in the past did have guidance on what political speech was protected in areas that invited the wider public in.
          Different US laws around the USA are not only all about what the government cannot stop as a government.
          Some state laws in the past did try to p
        • Corporations have no free speech "rights"

          There are no corporations that aren't run by people. You do not surrender your constitutionally protected rights just because you gather together as a group to run a landscaping business, a charity, a consultancy, or an internet messaging operation.

      • What about the free speech rights of Facebook or Twitter or Reddit? As much as I despise at least one of those corporations, I have to concede that those corporations also have the right to free speech, namely the right to control what appears on their platform.

        They have the right to censor (on their own platform), and we have the right to say it's a bad idea and we oppose it.

    • Re:1956 redux ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @08:29PM (#56309763)

      Was Reddit the last major bastion of Free Speech?

      Was reddit *ever* a bastion of free speech? The karma system they invented algorithmically represses and censors users who don't conform to the groupthink more efficiently than an army of ironfisted moderators ever could.

      4chan is about the last major site left with pure(ish) free speech (modulo the occasional vindictive mod). Also worth pointing out that /pol/ is more active than all political subreddits combined on a posts per hour basis.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Even 4chan is decried by some as being guilty of censorship and oppression. 4chan banned GamerGate, and the people behind it moved to 8chan. Even the mighty /pol/ has some banned topics - the sticky at the top of every page lists questions like "is X group white?" as being not allowed.

    • Re:1956 redux ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by labnet ( 457441 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:07PM (#56310211)

      The Wild West internet is gradually coming under the thumb of the Pompous Puritans

      Except these 'Pomous Puritans' are now from the hard left instead of the religious right.

    • > Was Reddit the last major bastion of Free Speech?

      No, Redditards downvote anything that doesn't fit into their myopic view.

      > Is the internet going to become as bland and mindless as 1956 television?

      Welcome to new world of Political Censorship -- where anything that doesn't fit into the Stupid Juvenile Whiner mindset is marginalized (at best), or censored (at worst.)

    • Can't we just demonize and vilify puritans and get them banned?
    • by pots ( 5047349 )

      When Lucy, of 'I Love Lucy', got pregnant, she was not allowed to be seen on screen in that condition. ... But why was that so? Because of the Religious Right.

      Or... because only Lucille Ball was pregnant, not Lucy Riccardo.

    • Back in the 50s, you also had drinking, marijuana and *gasp* pre-marital sex. Rock 'n' roll was corrupting the youth!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Even back in the 1950s there was porn and demand for it. Often it was sold as documentaries about nudists or dramas set in nudist camps.

      What changed was not that the puritans went away, it's that it got cheaper to make porn. First theaters started showing it, so it became much more profitable. Then home video arrived and recording directly onto tape made the whole process a lot cheaper.

      The increased competition and difficulty regulating the industry forced mainstream TV to loosen up.

  • An absolute crock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tannhaus ( 152710 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:31PM (#56309403) Homepage Journal

    Guns are not illegal. The purchases on gundeals were all above board NFA licensed businesses that required NFA transfers that included background checks. So, there was no illegal activity going on there. What's next? They ban communities where people hookup because some people consider it immoral? So posting pictures of your genitalia is ok, but getting a good deal on a scope isn't?

    • Guns are not illegal.

      Yet. The idea of this:

      firearms, ammunition, or explosives; drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances

      Is to throw "firearms" and "ammunition" in with things that are illegal or looked down upon why wide swaths of the country. They want you to see "guns" and "drugs" in the same sentence time and again, so at some point you'll start to see them in the same way.

      We really need to fight back against this bullshit. It's time that the majority in this country starts making these slimeballs bake those cakes that they don't want to bake. I don't know the best way, yet, but we need to come u

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @07:44PM (#56309493)
    Just like Google, err,, cough cough utube cough, you are clearly showing your political bias.

    Doesn't matter if you are for or against gun control, you can't deny utube and reddit are left wing.

    / don't own any guns
    // never bought a GF an abortion
    /// I must be a D
    • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @08:26PM (#56309747)
      The reality is that our world is bifurcating. That's happening for a number of reasons. An obvious one is the "hollowing out" of the middle class. But there's certainly more to it than that. In the 1980s or so, when religion was still very influential various Christian groups discovered the power of the boycott and other non-religious economic activities to push a social agenda onto non-believers. I have no idea why they would do this. If you force an atheist to keep his business closed on Sunday morning does that help him get to heaven? Does it help you? I've actually read the Christian bible and didn't see support for this anywhere

      Christianity perfected these techniques but didn't invest anything in marketing in order to update it's business model and messaging for modern times and, as a result, lost much of it's influence. However those techniques are now being wielded by those with a progressive agenda many of whom were probably one-time church members.

      Companies see the writing on the wall and it very well may be the case that, at some point, stores have to have (D) and (R) after them just like our elected officials. This forces them to look forward and figure out which views the majority will hold and engage in virtue signaling in this area.

      This is a terrible outcome because it means that it will become much harder to challenge majority views. I think it's a shame, but it's unavoidable. The clocks aren't going to turn back so life is always going to be somewhat progressive. But we need strong conservative voices to ensure that policy doesn't get ahead of the data or ignore critical facts (like not being able to borrow infinite amounts of money.) Unfortunately, the only "conservative" voices we have in the US are always making impossible promises to turn back the clock rather than trying to argue for smoother transitions.

  • by ichifish ( 1639329 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @08:16PM (#56309679)
    Seems like knowing that you've enabled a murder, an overdose, or a rape might keep you up at night. Maybe Reddit just doesn't want to be a part of it. It's a big old internet. Users that want to sell guns and drugs and sex can go somewhere else.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Seems like knowing that you've enabled a murder, an overdose, or a rape might keep you up at night.

      And yet our cities' politicians are just inviting more homeless in all the time.

  • The more users seek to embrace freedoms supported on better sites.
    US brands that support freedom of speech start trending.
    SJW brands that ban content become a meme.
  • Loophole (Score:4, Insightful)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @09:07PM (#56309967)

    As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including: firearms, ammunition, or explosives; drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with our advertising policy); paid services involving physical sexual contact; stolen goods; personal information; falsified official documents or currency

    If I read correctly, one can still trade chemical weapons. Elephant's tusks seems fine. Human organs trafficking seems to be in a grey zone because of physical contact.

  • I always wonder why sex is named in the same context as guns, drugs and illegal materials.

    Drugs and guns you can argue are dangerous things.
    Illegal stuff is harmful to someone (the person you stole it from, for example).

    For some reason, we are still in the middle ages where sex is thrown in with these things, not for rational reasons, but because stuff-up moral preachers want to give it a bad taste.

    Will humanity ever grow up? We've been waiting since the Enlightenment.

    • Sex can potentially cause harm, but in most cases it actually improves the participants health.
    • It's a United States thing. I live there.

      Europe has realized that sex isn't a bad thing, in fact, it's what keeps our species going.

      The Right is afraid of sex for puritan purposes. The Left is afraid of sex because they aren't sure what gender they are. The rest of us just don't want to get sued for harassment.

      There needs to be another direction, maybe Front, rather than Left or Right. I wouldn't recommend Behind.......

  • Looks like we can still have subreddits for child pornography!
  • FOSTA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Before all the alt-right Nazis go blaming liberal companies blah blah blah - someone should mention the Republican Congress passage of FOSTA. The bill makes it so that website owners can be held liable for posts of their users. Right now it is supposed to specifically target sex trafficking but broad language in the bill and the likelihood of increasing liability is making a lot of companies panic.

  • This appears to probably have been caused by FOSTA, which Congress recently passed. That's why it appears that many sites are coordinating these changes - the government is forcing them to by holding websites responsible for users undertaking illegal activities. More details can be found here:
    https://boingboing.net/2018/03/22/craigslist-personals-shut-down.html [boingboing.net]
    with some additional links to the Reddit announcement, and an EFF announcement of how Congress is censoring the internet.

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