Tensions over in Reddit came to a head in the early morning of June 11, Eastern Standard Time.
Already bristling from the fact that Reddit was moving towards a "kinder, gentler" and more "safe space", new CEO Ellen Pao fired a warning shot across the bow by banning one of the most popular subreddits, "fatpeoplehate", and shadowbanning the IPs and MAC IDs of anyone responsible for that subreddit. It's a permanent IP ban, the people in question would have to take extraordinary steps to return. Four token other subs were removed as well, but that's kind of irrelevant. Nobody was reading "transfags" or the other three. The primary target was most certainly fatpeoplehate.
Reddit was created, originally, to have a "hands off" and "free speech" aspect to it. It meant that objectionable content made its way on to the site, such as "creepshots" and "jailbait". But for a long time so long as you didn't post anything illegal, that was fine.
Then some activists from SomethingAwful started "ShitRedditSays", a small activist group of women dedicated to finding things that were sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, or worse, especially if they had been "upvoted". They "brigade" other subreddits, getting their members to silence others with a slew of downvotes (Reddit makes you wait nine minutes between posts if you get too many negative votes at once) and manipulate the voting anyway. Most hated their smug, superior, "try talking to us, we'll just ban you and remove what you post" attitude and zero-tolerance policy towards dissent from their extreme political correctness. A fellow woman using the term "bitching" would be banned, typically with the word "BENNED" written in penises. They joke about poor sobbing white fat neckbeards crying over their "freeze peach" (free speech) and so forth.
They were generally reviled by many, including their sister subreddit "SubredditDrama", which started out as a place to eat popcorn and watch people get into arguments in various places, but has since turned into "somebody said something we don't like, girls, sic 'em!". Other subreddits started out, such as "subredditcancer", which watched the movements of a certain cabal of the politically correct, some of these activists getting on the mod community of any of a number of boards and changing their moderation policy. Part of me looks at the amount of time and care not only the ShitRedditSays (or SRS) and SubredditDrama (or SRD) folks put into running dozens of boards, but the dogged determination the SubredditCancer people had in terms of tracking, validating and cross checking accounts and stuff.... do these folks not have lives?
Let's add some gasoline to this slow burn by introducing a new CEO, which Reddit did a while back. Ostensibly it was a buddy scratching another buddy's back, so that Ellen Pao could prove to a court her $114 Million gender discrimination suit had merit, because after all, she was in charge of one of the most popular sites on the World Wide Web. That nightmare deserves its own writeup, but the long and the short is, she's a toxic human being who sabotaged the career of other women, could not make the grade as a venture capitalist, demanded a CTO job instead and got it, and STILL claimed she was fired and sued. A woman who seduced a married co-worker to advance her career (the co-worker was fired for this) and then sued when that didn't work out. A woman who sued for the exact amount her husband lost running a Ponzi scheme involving Bernie Madoff type investments including the pension fund of at least one state police force. She was a polarizing presence - to the social justice warriors she was the suffering Christ on the Cross representing all women in tech under the glass ceiling. To many women, especially in tech, she's the prime reason many companies are now wary of hiring women at all.
But she decided, once she didn't win enough to retire on, to actually make a go of being Reddit CEO, and outright said Reddit was no longer a platform for free speech but would conform to a newer, gentler, kinder "safe space" mentality in which anything that offended anyone would not only be removed, but they were developing new technology to prevent people from ever coming back.
And then she dropped the hammer. On one of the most popular subreddits on the site.
Truth be told, if you really, really looked at the content on fatpeoplehate, it was less about hating people for being fat, but a protest that there couldn't be enough "English" on commentary in fatpeoplestories and fatlogic. It tended to be less about fat per se as people's attitudes, such as mocking Health At Every Size or in one notorious case, a woman who ballooned up to size 38 and bought Viagra for her now sexuallly disinterested husband, demanding he find her as sexy at her new weight as he did when she was a size 10.
And also, any argument that Reddit made fell on deaf ears. If brigading other subreddits is a bannable offense, why in hell aren't all the "Archangelle" accounts and the "fempire" of ShitRedditSays subreddits gone in one fell swoop? They not only brigaded other subreddits by their own and the admission of others, they've most famously targeted people, including at least one whose real life identity they found out and bragged openly about getting him fired and ruining his life.
Which went way beyond what some posters did against FPH's stated rules and moderation policy, even if some people from there were responsible for some malfeasance. In theory when "ObesePeopleDislike" started up with other people, it wasn't responsible for whatever brigading took place, but they took that down and shadowbanned those folks as well. It was most certainly because women don't like being called fat.
"Good riddance", chanted the various woman-centric parts of Reddit. "Those trolls are gone, good riddance". But the point for many wasn't that fatpeoplehate was gone, it was that politically correct subreddits that engaged in exactly the same behavior were spared. The people in which supported Ellen Pao during her trial, and were friends with various other online feminist activists such as Sarkeesian, who also came to the side of Ellen Pao. It is very obvious, "one rule for you, one rule for my people and my friends". That has gone over the heads of many.
Oh, was it that the content is objectionable? May I point you to the subreddit "cutefemalecorpses" (it is exactly what it says it is) or "coontown", which exists only to mock black people racially? The sarcastic rejoinder is, nobody ever called Ellen Pao black.
Last night, Reddit competitor voat.co was hammered. Dozens if not hundreds of people jumped ship, at least temporarily.
And another side effect is that the capsule burst. Pics was inundated with pictures of fat women with unflattering captions. Punchablefaces was nothing but picture of "Chairman Pao" after picture of "Chairman Pao", with the use of the word "cunt" in the description quite popular. In short, people who had no interest in FPH suddenly found reasons to swamp every other subreddit with a caricature of the content of FPH. And with the mods no longer controlling the population, no holds barred.
Interestingly, 4chan poster "Anonymous" came up months ago with the rationale for this behavior. Seems that he was working for an online marketing group that had identified probably the most profitable sector to date. Women control the majority of the spending power in the First World, but the Social Justice Warrior/Right On Feminist poster was a marketer's dream. They loved to buy low cost of production/high cost of purchase trinkets like mugs that say "Male Tears". They then post that to their social media, along with links to buying it. In short, they're people with a large amount of disposable income and time on their hands who not only buy the most profitable items imaginable, but herd-mind their friends into doing so, too.
So Reddit is slowly being turned into a place for them to be gathered in, and then marketed to.
The only real problem there is that their fuel is the sort of posting they can gather together and rant about: they haven't considered they have to maintain a delicate balance of allowing the sort of content that fuels their righteous indignation, tempered with policies that keep that sort of thing to a presence, but not a disturbance. But with more coddling came more demands, and it seems the new powers that be went "full retard" in the parlance of the 2010s and started moving the site hard to the left.
Whether this is just "the day all the Reddit trolls went back to 4chan" or the day Reddit started the slow, inevitable decline to being the graveyard that digg and memepool were remains to be seen. Whether voat.co becomes the new Reddit or dies on the vine because when the demand came, they couldn't maintain supply also remains to be seen.
But last night/this morning will be in some social media handbook textbook either way. It was one of those Defining Moments, regardless of how the chips may eventually fall.