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“Reddit is uninterested in stopping them, even though it boasts on the corporate blog the good it is doing for the world"
September 30, 2011 11:58 AM   Subscribe

“We’re a free speech site and the cost of that is that there’s stuff that’s offensive on there.” This was the response of Erik Martin aka hueypriest, General Manager of Reddit, to the accusation on last night’s Anderson Cooper 360 that the “jailbait” subreddit is “borderline kiddie porn.”

“I think we’re all sort of tired of people hiding behind the first amendment, right? It’s so cowardly. The first amendment is there for wonderful reasons… Kiddie porn: not protected,” said Sonny Halston, former sex crimes prosecutor. The other guest, Jeffrey Toobin, said that the pictures on the ‘ephebophile’ jailbait subreddit do not violate any law, as it only shows underage teenaged girls wearing clothes.

Anderson was surprised to learn that Reddit is under the same corporate umbrella as Conde Nast, having thought that it “might be run out of someone’s basement,” unlike his network cohort Don Lemon who answered questions from redditors. Though the site does have some subreddits of tasteless or disgusting content, its members have done a lot of good deeds in the past, including sending free pizza to random deserving people.
posted by waraw (237 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why haven't you linked to the Reddit thread in question?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:01 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Correction: former sex crimes prosecutor Sunny Hostin.
posted by waraw at 12:01 PM on September 30, 2011


Ugh, just Googled it. Fucking gross.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2011


There are a few different threads there discussing this. It's difficult to single one over another.
posted by waraw at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2011


having thought that it “might be run out of someone’s basement,”

That's 4chan.
posted by localroger at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm no huge fan of reddit, but to their credit - it's a huge site with little moderation and tons of subreddits and it isn't fair to sort of judge all of reddit by this one subreddit. There was a thread on there recently discussing how it's unfortunate that if you google reddit 'jailbait' is one of the top links and that it sucks that that is what is representing them.

It isn't tasteful, it is pretty creepy, but it isn't illegal, and I have a feeling that's what most redditors feel as well.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:09 PM on September 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's a hard problem, since there are thousands of subreddits big and small for just about every conceivable topic, from "news" and "humor" to toddler-friendly explanations of complex topics and the goosebumps generated by beautiful music. There are two subreddits for Metafilter alone (albeit tiny ones). It's like Craigslist, in a sense, right down to having active subreddits for every largish town. I sort of get why the management wouldn't want to give the appearance of tamping down on that, both to encourage site growth and avoid thorny problems of where to draw the line of good taste.

Anyway, it's kind of funny to see that the jailbait subreddit is now full of photoshopped pics of Anderson Cooper, so mission temporarily accomplished, I guess.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:09 PM on September 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


“We’re a free speech site and the cost of that is that there’s stuff that’s offensive on there.”

How exactly does this jive then with their user agreement:
You further agree not to use any sexually suggestive language or to provide to or post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that is sexually suggestive or appeals to a prurient interest.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was actually more put off by the "humor" of the /r/beatingwomen subreddit, to be honest.
posted by mikeh at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


> It isn't tasteful, it is pretty creepy, but it isn't illegal

That's a pretty good working description of the internet in general.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:13 PM on September 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


[few comments removed - please quit hollering at each other. If this could not turn into a "let's link to the grossest subreddits" also we'd appreciate it. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:13 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


So reddit is as much of a cesspool as I suspected? Nice.
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:18 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's gambling in the casino!

Anyways. Up until earlier last week, I'd been an active member of Reddit, mostly in the Boston, Travel and Soccer subreddits and called it quits after three years, not because of the general content of the site nor because of certain themed subreddits, but mainly because it's a really great community and to be honest, active participation ate up a lot of my time and I needed to cut it back a couple of notches. To go out and attack it like that, after just recently benefitted from it, just shows how hypocritical the 24-hour media needs to be in order to keep up the outrage.

Truth be told, news manufacturing takes up a lot of certain people's time and they too could benefit from cutting it back a couple of notches and focus on what they're supposed to be doing: passively reporting the facts as they occur.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


/r/jailbait makes me wish I got into netsec, so I could hack the site and actually remove the scummier subreddits from the databases and ban the offending users.

really wish reddit would give them the boot and tell them to get their own site.
posted by hellojed at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2011


For once, Metafilter gives Reddit as much credit as it deserves.
posted by crunchland at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sadly, most of the popular stuff in /r/jailbait (apart from Cooper) appears to be self-portraits.
posted by Gator at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I really don't get the Reddit hate that seems so pervasive here. Hating Reddit because there are some crappy subreddits and crappy posters over there is like hating MetaFilter because of the unbridled jackassery that goes on in MetaTalk.
posted by Gator at 12:24 PM on September 30, 2011 [23 favorites]


So what Cooper is saying is that CNN can be judged by any of the comments/perspectives of any of its guests? CNN is a racist, sexist, murder and terrorism-glorifying hellhole?
posted by rhizome at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2011 [27 favorites]


It's been amusing seeing some redditors spout off about how CNN is "targeting" reddit because they're afraid of its raw, Ron Paul-quoting brilliance and power.

I don't hate reddit and read it regularly, but I have many problems with its culture, only one of which is the inflated sense of self-importance some members display.
posted by brundlefly at 12:28 PM on September 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


It would be far more productive to reach out to the members of that subreddit and show them how their activity is harmful and that there are better ways to express themselves or achieve their goals.

But no, it's way easier to pass judgement and censure, preferably doing so behind a cloud spreading fear and confusion.
posted by polymodus at 12:30 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


A pithy but relevant comment from a redditor on this:

[–]March_of_the_ENTropy 188 points 1 hour ago

They aren't even a part of reddit, as I see it. Reddit is a community building engine. These are the communities that have been built. It's like suing lego because someone made a dick with them.

posted by Lutoslawski at 12:35 PM on September 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


reddit seems to be upholding the old, anything-goes-so-build-what-you-want approach to the internet, and good for them. Actively censoring content -- especially legal content -- disgusts me more than a bunch of creepy pics. I'll take "we're a free speech site and the cost of that is that there's stuff that's offensive on there" over "we deleted /r/trees, /r/new_right, and /r/RadicalFeminism because people found them offensive, please enjoy /r/milquetoast instead" any day of the week.
posted by vorfeed at 12:39 PM on September 30, 2011 [27 favorites]


/r/Jailbait isn't even close to being the most disgusting subreddit but, if it's Google rank is any indication, it's one of the most visited. If you're going to chastise anyone chastise the readers.

This is crap journalism.
posted by Bonzai at 12:39 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reddit is a lot like usenet, with all the good and bad that comes with that.
posted by papercrane at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's like suing lego because someone made a dick with them.


I think the analogy breaks, unless LEGO also has the ability to remotely vanish pieces whenever it needs to.
posted by polymodus at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reddit is both a community building engine, AND a community (by any definition of the word.) You really can't seperate the two, and arguing otherwise seems disingenuous to me.

You wouldn't argue that MetaFilter isn't a "community" but a "webblog post building engine."
posted by naju at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2011


They aren't even a part of reddit, as I see it. Reddit is a community building engine. These are the communities that have been built. It's like suing lego because someone made a dick with them.

Is someone talking about suing them, though? Or is this just a case of free speech in action, with Cooper saying what he thinks, and then, you know, other people talking about what they think about that, and so on down the line...?

If so, hurrah! We're doing that thing we love so much right now! Everyone's winning, for the moment!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you're going to chastise anyone chastise the readers.

I'd rather chastise the parents of the little girls who are taking those topless/shower/underwear photos of themselves.
posted by Gator at 12:45 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I caught this report last night and all I learned 2 things from it:
1) Listening to a journalist describe a popular website is guaranteed to be pretty hilarious.
2) I want Anderson Cooper to do a report on /r/aww.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:45 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gator: "Sadly, most of the popular stuff in /r/jailbait (apart from Cooper) appears to be self-portraits."

I'm guessing the teenagers who took the self-portraits aren't posting the pics themselves, though?

Gator: "And I really don't get the Reddit hate that seems so pervasive here. Hating Reddit because there are some crappy subreddits and crappy posters over there is like hating MetaFilter because of the unbridled jackassery that goes on in MetaTalk."

Yeah, it's such a fragmented collection of subsites that to talk about Reddit as if it were a single entity doesn't really make sense. And the supposed culture of the place only seems to apply to the biggest sections, or if you browse the front page without being logged in. I subscribe to various fairly nerdy, low-traffic subreddits and the standard of submitted links, discussion and question-answering is really quite high - the casual misogyny, risible libertarianism, poorly drawn comics, &c. are nowhere to be seen.
posted by jack_mo at 12:47 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


naju: "You wouldn't argue that MetaFilter isn't a "community" but a "webblog post building engine.""

MetaFilter is much more of a community than reddit, which is fractured into many subreddits. There is clearly an overarching culture to reddit, but different subreddits can be considered part of that culture to varying extents or not at all.
posted by brundlefly at 12:48 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never felt one way or another about reddit, really, until they were mean to me and my wife.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:49 PM on September 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you're going to chastise anyone chastise the readers.

There certainly is a lot of jailbait-esque (or, for that matter, pedo-esque) imagery in mainstream popular culture. I'm reminded of those creepy photos of JonBenet Ramsey, or all the interest in the then-teenage Lohan girls.
posted by Forktine at 12:49 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


They aren't even a part of reddit, as I see it. Reddit is a community building engine. These are the communities that have been built. It's like suing lego because someone made a dick with them.

That's a bit disingenuous, no? It's not like the subreddits are just running the Reddit engine on another server. It's the difference between a random site running Slashcode and actual Slashdot subsites.
posted by kmz at 12:50 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh no! My child! On the internet! Right Now! Pervs Looking at them!? Someone?! Somewhere!?
Holy #$%^ I'm going to shut off CNN and go solve the gorramm problem!!
posted by hot_monster at 12:54 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


MrMoonPie: Man that was uncalled for and typifies so much of the self-loathing culture we've got going these days in America. People on the internet can be such goons. My wife just got in a big nasty spat with a bunch of FB friends over a secret group some members of a larger online group she belongs to had created just to secretly make fun of certain other members of the larger group. She got invited to the group, started realizing just what a nasty little thing it was, and called them out on it. These were adults, even.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


kmz: "That's a bit disingenuous, no? It's not like the subreddits are just running the Reddit engine on another server. It's the difference between a random site running Slashcode and actual Slashdot subsites."

I'm not very familiar with the way Slashdot works. Are subsites user-created?
posted by brundlefly at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2011


One time I took a dump and then the water splashed my ass and I was all "FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU".

Besides, reddit's offensiveness isn't its explicitness, it's its banality.
posted by GuyZero at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's a bit disingenuous on the part of Erik Martin. For awhile he did delete jailbait because the moderator of the subreddit, violentacrez, made of bunch of people subredditors who had been, in his words, "troublesome in the past".

Granted, the moderator of that subreddit also seems to be a gigantic troll, as he also created the subreddit /picsofdeadkids, and seems to revel in people not liking him.
posted by zabuni at 12:58 PM on September 30, 2011


Does this mean Reddit is the new 4chan?
posted by clvrmnky at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a vapid piece of media. Come on, Anderson, put one ounce of effort into learning one goddamned thing about the thing you're reporting on.

Instead of saying "Where could these pictures come from? Who are these girls?!" why don't you use your gargantuan budget to find the fuck out.

I hate the moral authority that Anderson Cooper has awarded himself.

For saying a few odd sentences criticizing the government during the Katrina disaster he seems to have gotten promoted to The Most Forthright Humanitarian Citizen Ever.

He's schlockin' for publicity and $$$ as usual, and he can eat my ass.
posted by TheRedArmy at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm guessing the teenagers who took the self-portraits aren't posting the pics themselves, though?

They're posting/sharing them somewhere; how else did they wind up on the Internet?
posted by Gator at 1:05 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd rather chastise the parents of the little girls who are taking those topless/shower/underwear photos of themselves.

I thought there was no nudity on /jailbait.
posted by Mitheral at 1:06 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


"That's a bit disingenuous, no?"

It is a little, yeah. For the curious, here's the most relevant discussion about this over at Reddit.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2011


It might be hairsplitting, but if a girl has no top or bra on and covers her nips with her hands or her hair, I'd still call it a topless photo.
posted by Gator at 1:09 PM on September 30, 2011


If you think r/jailbait is the worst thing on reddit, then let me not introduce you to r/picsofdeadkids (NB: never visited, but pretty sure it exists) and r/spacedicks, not to mention the number of neonazi/white pride subreddits, etc ad infinitum.


We all know the internet can be a horrible, horrible place. I've spent the last couple of years watching reddit's inevitable demise due to an influx of younger redditors and have shied away for greener (or bluer, I should say) pastures, but I have to commend their hands-off approach. If the cost of free speech in the bustling city of the internet is the occasional fetid stench from some nasty backalley, then I say just hold your nose and keep on walking.
posted by SomaSoda at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not clicking it at work but are the pics with model and parent consent? If not, then it is illegal.

I don't know, seems like something Rodney Alcala or Phillip Garrido would like.

If I saw my daughter (or son) on there, I would hunt the poster down. Trust me.
posted by stormpooper at 1:12 PM on September 30, 2011


According to the thread Lutoslawski posted: "Actually there once was a subreddit like /r/jailbait but for girls much younger that was removed. This was 2-3 years ago."

So there is some editorial action being taken on what is acceptable and what isn't - a subreddit for really young girls is creepy enough to be removed, but a subreddit for 15-16 year olds isn't creepy enough, I guess. Despite both being technically legal. If Reddit is making judgment calls, then I don't think either should be tolerated.
posted by naju at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2011


If I saw my daughter (or son) on there, I would hunt the poster down. Trust me.

I believe you.

If I downloaded their picture, would you hunt me down too?
posted by Trurl at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, reddit shouldn't mistake the medium for the message, either. It wouldn't be censoring speech, but only applying community standards and using editorial discretion to delete this stuff. It's admirable they want to be an unfiltered outlet (though apparently only sometimes?), but they shouldn't feel obliged to be, should they?

Think about it this way: Free Speech doesn't mean we're all morally obligated to carry whatever random messages anyone else might want to transmit for them?

The other side of free speech is having the liberty not to say things you don't agree with, nor to promulgate them. All freedoms have a positive and a negative side to them. If you only look at one side, you can go around in circles forever.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2011


Somebody owns reddit, and I think they have a moral responsibility not to host a gathering place for people who cause harm to children. Given the publicity, some smart, aggressive DA is likely to apply the law. Unless it's really a honeypot, which would be kind of slick. Self-censorship is my favorite kind, but if you can't moderate yourself, somebody else may do it for you.
posted by theora55 at 1:31 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


host a gathering place for people who cause harm to children

Thats tricky though. Social networking sites fit the bill, with cyberbullying. Its also difficult because you could trigger a Barbara Streissand effect, where having a public case will bring more attention.

The only way to stop the mob is an online ID system.
posted by FJT at 1:41 PM on September 30, 2011


There doesn't seem to be any evidence that the photos, however disturbing, were taken against the subjects' will.

You can find pictures of teenaged girls in small enough bathing suits on the covers of many many teen (and especially teen girl) oriented books. Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girls and their ilk are sexualizing teenaged girls verbally and often visually as well.

The media 15-16 year old girls consume teaches them that sexy underwear pictures are what is desired and expected of them, so who is surprised that girls want to be sexy like the characters they read about and the teen idols that have been strutting around in underwear for generations?

Dismayed? Hell yeah. Surprised? Not at all.
posted by TheRedArmy at 1:42 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know as long as they are legal 18 year old people, why are they going after reddit? There's tons of big name money making porn companies (hustler, etc...) with titles like "barely legal" etc...

If there's child porn, find it, prosecute it and move on. If not? STFU and let the previous cases that have already dealt with this have their say.
posted by symbioid at 1:42 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think I've visited Reddit maybe a half-dozen times in my life. I don't know why; it just sort of hasn't appeared much on my radar. So I'm not super familiar with the culture of the site or its layout or whatever. What I know is I went here and I just got to the part where, in defense of the jailbait subreddit, someone quotes the famous lines about "First they came for the Socialists."

I guess what I'm saying is that I need to spend more time on Reddit because if this guy is not serious then this is brilliant satire that my life needs more of and if the guy is serious - and I'm gathering from context that he is - then this might just be the funniest thing I have ever read.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be any evidence that the photos, however disturbing, were taken against the subjects' will.

The question is, are they being distributed against the subject's will? Personally, that's something that you need to positively prove (ie, "These girls and their legal guardians are positively stating that they want these pictures to be distributed" vs. what you seem to be claiming, "These girls or their legal guardians have not forbidden us from posting these photos.")

symbioid - "Barely legal" and "jailbait" are two different concepts. "Barely legal" = over 18. "Jailbait" = under 18.
posted by muddgirl at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're posting/sharing them somewhere; how else did they wind up on the Internet?

That they were distributed to somebody, somewhere, does not mean they should be distributed to everybody, everywhere. Asshole exes, asshole computer repairmen, phone hackers, etc are all possible avenues for distribution.

Should people be more careful and prudent about taking and sending/storing possibly compromising photos? Sure. But that doesn't make it alright to distribute them without consent.
posted by kmz at 1:54 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


This says more about Anderson Cooper's lackluster foray into talk than it does about Reddit. It's pretty early for his producers to be this desperate.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


That subreddit is all kinds of creepy

Yes, the people in the photos are presumably posting them on the internet of their own free will. That doesn't mean they intended for them to be collected in one place and used as wank material by crass internet denizens. If I was one of the girls in those photos, I'd feel pretty goddamn disturbed by some of the threads being made on there.

(While we're on the topic of reddit and creepiness, I recently discovered the 'beatingwomen' and 'rapingwomen' subreddits. I don't care how high-minded the site moderators are, that shit taints the whole site by association.)
posted by anaximander at 2:01 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


what you seem to be claiming, "These girls or their legal guardians have not forbidden us from posting these photos

The only thing I 'claim' that no one seems to know the provenance of so many pictures of apparently underage girls, and that figuring out why it's happening might be more important than deciding whether or not it is Officially Kiddie Porn, like Cooper and friends.

Thanks for putting the words of a sleazeball child porn advocate lawyer in my mouth, though.
posted by TheRedArmy at 2:09 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


So are the /r/jailbait pics actually hosted on reddit, or are we just talking about an aggregation of links to stuff actually hosted on imgur, youtube, etc. like all the other subreddits, not to mention the front page?
posted by jfuller at 2:27 PM on September 30, 2011


I don't care about the first amendment "question" of this since this isn't protected speech and a DA who felt like flexing could bring it down pretty easily. And I'm not concerned with the media sexualization of teenagers because, well, they get it more from their peers than anywhere else and as fucked up as that can be at times we're not going to change that. It's a process that's going to happen sometime and the teenage years are when the hormones hit.

What bugs the hell out of me here is the Streisand effect. Anderson Cooper brought this from being seen by it's devoted creeps to being seen by the world, and now those underage girls have been identified by those who know them. No big deal, though. It's just the start of the school year.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:28 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


that no one seems to know the provenance of so many pictures of apparently underage girls

Reddit users explicitely labeled them "jailbait." Why is it my responsibility to figure out whether or not that is true? This isn't a court of law, and neither is Anderson Cooper 360. They are labeled jailbait. They look like underaged girls, and there is no evidence that consent was given by any party for them to be reproduced.

Why does Cooper have the responsibility to vindicate Redditers?

and now those underage girls have been identified by those who know them. No big deal, though. It's just the start of the school year.

Yeah, this really bugs me.
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


So are the /r/jailbait pics actually hosted on reddit, or are we just talking about an aggregation of links to stuff actually hosted on imgur, youtube, etc. like all the other subreddits, not to mention the front page?

It works like the rest of the site; pics are hosted elsewhere.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:33 PM on September 30, 2011


is there any way we can make sure they don't establish a similar site elsewhere if this is closed down
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:36 PM on September 30, 2011


I'm just thankful everything is OK in the world and nothing important is happening. CNN wouldn't be covering this if there was actual...stuff going on.

Right?
posted by MattMangels at 2:36 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be explicit: I can't see how this is illegal. But I also can't see how Reddit site owners can ethically justify staying hands-off about it.

The creator of this subreddit is pretty clearly a troll. Flamebait should be nuked from orbit.
posted by muddgirl at 2:42 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


No need to worry; once Google buys Reddit, all the posters will be forced to use their real names. Or at least names that sound like real names.
posted by happyroach at 2:43 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find that as I get older, I have less tolerance for bullshit, and therefore less tolerance for having to wade through all the noise in the Marketplace of Ideas. Unfortunately, as a fan of the First Amendment, since I believe that the inherent rights to information guaranteed by our Constitution should not be bound by any one individual's labels, including my own, I also have to recognize that wading through bullshit is the price I have to pay as a citizen for these freedoms and protect our collective raw ore of information. This is why MetaFilter is my home. It's basically my personal assistant for the Marketplace of Ideas because it's heavily moderated by smart, sensible mods and policed by a community of thoughtful, mature, intelligent adults (with some exceptions, obviously, but even those flameouts I think can be constructive and move the community forward.)

Consequently, my cranky disposition in this regard means my threshold for crap is set to the point where I try confine my information swimming to the clean freshwater information streams as opposed to the nasty backwaters. Since I have no desire to brave the 4chan sewers, Reddit for me is about as close to the point source pollution of raw information I want to go, and even there, after filtering out the crap that I either find offensive or too stupid to warrant my attention, I've basically gotten to the point where I'm just in it for /r/soccer, adorable pet pics, TILs, and to keep abreast of emerging memes. While I'm vaguely aware of the existence of unsavory subreddits, it's up to Reddit's lawyers and our legal system, not journalists, to decide where the line of legality is drawn. If it's below that line and illegal, it damned well needs to go away. Above that line, it's my own damned responsibility to ignore it, because I don't want anyone else, even my own beloved Silver Fox Coop to have the power to diminish or crush the raw information before it can be properly mined.

That having been said, discussion defining those legal lines is, in and of itself information that is valuable in the Marketplace, so I fully appreciate Anderson's report here, even though I disagree with the obviously uninformed position of these people that the value of all of Reddit's contribution to the Marketplace should be defined solely by one or two of its most offensive subreddits.

tl;dr: I disagree with Anderson, Toobin, and LadyWhoseNameICan'tRememberRightNow, but I'm going to abide by Reddit's policy and not downvote them solely because I disagree with their opinions. On second thought, fuck it, I think I'll downvote them anyway, since 75% of Reddit doesn't seem to understand and/or abide by the downvote policy anyway.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:44 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heh... someone posted this publicity still of the 16 year old Melanie Griffith on the set of Night Moves.
posted by Trurl at 2:51 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we not make this a jailbait-by-proxy thread please?
posted by jessamyn at 2:54 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


muddgirl, it's actually in the legal grey area where it's not necessarily illegal, but it's not protected speech either. Makes it a thing about community standards. Which is not one of those aspects of first amendment law that I'm a big fan of, but that's the Lemon Test for you, and I don't have the energy or inclination today to defend assholes posting pics on a jailbait forum.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:55 PM on September 30, 2011


WAIT! Not Lemon test! Gimme a minute!
posted by Navelgazer at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2011


Miller Test is what I meant. Okay, only a few more hours to the weekend...
posted by Navelgazer at 2:57 PM on September 30, 2011


Navelgazer: "WAIT! Not Lemon test! Gimme a minute!"
I think Miller test is the droid you're looking for.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:57 PM on September 30, 2011


Indeed. Thanks.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:58 PM on September 30, 2011


Can a collection of links to content that is not obscene become obscene by virtue of anthology?

and I don't have the energy or inclination today to defend assholes posting pics on a jailbait forum

Yeah, it's sort of an interesting question but like I said, total flamebait.
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on September 30, 2011


Reddit is a circlejerk of clueless white manchildren. The child porn and racism and misogyny are just the most obvious symptoms. You also got highschool libertarianism, endless nostolgia for 80s juvenilia, absurd sentimentality alternating with internet tough guy poses, social ineptness, nerd pride, and pendantry. Basically, take the worst parts of being fourteen and package it in a self reinforcing culture that is also scared of black people and angry that women won't sleep with them and you got Reddit. It is shit and I hate it.

Incidentally, if you would also like to get your hate on, I recommend reading /r/ShitRedditSays.
posted by Ictus at 3:20 PM on September 30, 2011 [38 favorites]


Ictus do you want a hug
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:27 PM on September 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


It would be far more productive to reach out to the members of that subreddit and show them how their activity is harmful and that there are better ways to express themselves or achieve their goals.

But no, it's way easier to pass judgement and censure, preferably doing so behind a cloud spreading fear and confusion.


...

This is crap journalism.

Exactly. This is "two shits" reporting, as in Anderson Cooper couldn't give two shits if there is child porn on Reddit. He just wants eyeballs, and is exploiting those young women as much as Reddit is.

Not clicking it at work but are the pics with model and parent consent? If not, then it is illegal.

Not if they're not naked or not engaged in (or simulating) sexual conduct.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I haven't looked at reddit/jailbait and I probably won't.

How does it compare to things like Top 10 Hottest and Successful Teenage Celebrities?

Or say People magazine?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:43 PM on September 30, 2011


If you apply the Miller Test to the Lemon Party, I'm suspect it reads porn.
posted by localroger at 3:47 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have many problems with its culture, only one of which is the inflated sense of self-importance some members display.

Lots of engineers. Lots of nerds. Lots of internet 'experts.'

So yeah, a lot of inflated notions of intelligence. Kinda comes with the territory, though.
posted by rokusan at 3:54 PM on September 30, 2011


Someone just pointed out to me on Memail that I misinterpreted TheRedArmy, who was (I think) trying to draw attention to the idea that we should be concerned about teenaged girls taking these photos, rather than to the people anthologizing them. I set myself a mission this month to read fewer Metafilter comments, and read them better, and I failed here. My apologies.

I still disagree, but that's sort of beside the point now.
posted by muddgirl at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


all this railing against reddit sounds like maybe a lot of barkbarkbarkbarkbark

mrgrimm may have made some points about this with his "teen celeb" link, i dunno because i am not clicking. there is also that "child beauty pageant" shit, etc etc.

also re: anderson cooper and publicity/viewership, yeah. of course people rarely adopt moral stances without at least some personal gain and that is probably "okay"/unavoidable but this is kind of off-putting.

i think possibly the internet and human consciousness are more trouble than they are worth
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:11 PM on September 30, 2011


From the way it was being described, I was expecting much worse than self portraits of high school girls in bikinis and shorts.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:16 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Would it have been to much to ask the former prosecutor to articulate the standard she's applying to judge the images illegal? And her repeated claim that the images straddle the line between legal images and child porn demonstrates one of the problems with child pornography law; if a trained prosecutor thinks there are images which might be child pornography and then again might not be, isn't that a good argument that the statute should be ruled void for vagueness?
posted by layceepee at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


How does it compare to things like Top 10 Hottest and Successful Teenage Celebrities?
Most of the young ladies in that article were not actually teens at the time of publication - and I don't mean "not yet teens", I mean "not teens anymore". And of those that were younger than 20, only one was under 18, and she was closer to 18 than to 17.

What ages are we talking about in /r/jailbait?
posted by Flunkie at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


CNN's not "covering it" on this show, because this is a day time talk show. It's both purient and prudish at the same time. And Cooper's shock about Conde Nast is disingenuous at best--Vogue's got unclothed young women in every issue.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2011


What's all this about a morning talk show? I know Cooper's doing one at some point, but the Reddit story was covered last night, on his AC/360° news show.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:46 PM on September 30, 2011


Flunkie: someone mentioned 16 in the title of one of the posts, and that's about what the tiny thumbnails look like to me: clothed or otherwise-covered 16/17/18 year olds.

16 is the age of consent in many nations, if not most.
posted by vorfeed at 4:50 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regardless of the US's current obsession with underage sex, it doesn't seem right to call pictures of young women (because that's what they are) 'kiddie porn'. There's a world of difference between a 16 year old taking a picture of herself in a bra and, say, a 7 year being made to act out somebody's sick fantasy.
posted by signal at 4:57 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


16 is the age of consent in many nations, if not most.
Well, the age of consent for sex, including in much or perhaps even most of the USA. But the age of consent for sex is not really relevant; what's more relevant is the age of consent for participating in pornography, which in the USA is 18.

I should explicitly say that I am not saying this stuff is "pornography". I'm just saying that that's the age to consider due to the fact that people are talking about it in that context.
posted by Flunkie at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2011


As I was walking my whippets around the park this morning, I was overtaken by a quartet of girls - age 16, 15, 14? I can never tell - going towards the tennis courts. I suppose they were a team, as they wore identical tennis dresses. Their legs were lovely.

I kept my glances discreet. My notice would have been revolting to them, of course. But also: part of their charm lay in their unselfconsciousness. When surprised by beauty in the wild, one keeps still to avoid startling it.

The self portraits of high school girls in bikinis and shorts offered a pleasure of that kind. I didn't read the comments, which sounds like no loss.

If enjoying that particular form of physical beauty makes me a horrible person, so be it.
posted by Trurl at 5:06 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


trurl's gonna get v&
posted by mr_roboto at 5:09 PM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's a world of difference between a 16 year old taking a picture of herself in a bra and, say, a 7 year being made to act out somebody's sick fantasy.

And there's another world of difference between a 16 year old taking photos like these (and even sharing them publicly online) and the practice of collecting and sharing thousands of similar photos. The images shared on r/jailbait are not far from the "pro teen model" scene which specializes in suggestive-but-not-pornographic photographs of girls too young to model nude.
posted by Lorin at 5:11 PM on September 30, 2011


Whats "v&"?

"Vanned", maybe? But even if so, what does that mean?
posted by Flunkie at 5:16 PM on September 30, 2011


I should explicitly say that I am not saying this stuff is "pornography". I'm just saying that that's the age to consider due to the fact that people are talking about it in that context.

If these are "pornography", though, then so are many photos on facebook, myspace, or anywhere else where similar photos of underaged girls can be found. If these were sexually explicit pictures, that'd be one thing, but they don't appear to be... and frankly, these kinds of pictures are everywhere. I'm dead sure there are facebook groups like this.

"Vanned", maybe? But even if so, what does that mean?

It means "arrested", as in "in the police van".
posted by vorfeed at 5:21 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


When surprised by beauty in the wild, one keeps still to avoid startling it.

Dude, if you're saying this about 14 year old girls, please get a grip on your self-control and realize that maybe you shouldn't be sneaking glances at all. These are literally kids.
posted by naju at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I am not saying this stuff is pornography."
posted by Flunkie at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2011


These are literally kids.

And a herd of deer in the forest are literally deer. They're beautiful to see. I have no interest in having sex with them either.
posted by Trurl at 5:24 PM on September 30, 2011


realize that maybe you shouldn't be sneaking glances at all. These are literally kids.

Or consider that these may be the sorts of things that are fine to think but maybe not as non-problematic when shared in a large public forum. Which is really sort of the meta-topic of this reddit thing in the first place. I'm fairly certain that there are many people in MetaFilter who have some little hidden part of the internet that the use for things that they might not want to post on their facebook page. When those sorts of places make it to CNN, there's a bit of aculture clash, in many different directions.
posted by jessamyn at 5:25 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't get the defense. I never paid attention to Reddit until someone here linked the Worst of Reddit. Child porn, racism, attacking rape victims...ugh.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2011


And there's another world of difference between a 16 year old taking photos like these (and even sharing them publicly online) and the practice of collecting and sharing thousands of similar photos. The images shared on r/jailbait are not far from the "pro teen model" scene which specializes in suggestive-but-not-pornographic photographs of girls too young to model nude.

I don't really want to troll through page after page of those photos, but after a couple pages, the vast majority of photos seemed unsuggestive beyond the fact thet there are young girls wearing revealing clothing. Like, three girls on the beach, getting their picture taken together. Duckface bathroom facebook pics. Stuff like that. Which is not to say that people don't have the right to be skeeved out by this, but just be accurate. I didn't see anybody grabbing their junk or pantomiming sex or making sex faces or anything like that.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2011


I was reading yesterday on Jezabel about how they have a whole subreddit for one 14 year old girl who got her phone hacked, but I could only find this story
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:39 PM on September 30, 2011


>I don't get the defense. I never paid attention . . .

Reddit has alexa rankings in the top 40. For comparison the last time I looked metafilter was ~1500. On Sunday there was a posting when the mods were sleeping of a Reddit thread on what is the most tasteless joke you have ever heard?

That was "a poorly framed post" and got deleted as soon as a mod woke up and saw all the flags. This is not the last time we are going to see Reddit shenanigans posted here.
posted by bukvich at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2011


I was reading yesterday on Jezabel about how they have a whole subreddit for one 14 year old girl who got her phone hacked, but I could only find this story
What a strange article. The whole thing is essentially framed as "OMG can you believe the nerve of these pedophiles to say that they're not pedophiles, merely because they're not actually pedophiles!"
posted by Flunkie at 5:51 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is not to say that people don't have the right to be skeeved out by this, but just be accurate.

Fair enough. Taken alone the photos are not all that suggestive, it's more that my impression of them is colored heavily by reading so many of the comments on r/jailbait.
posted by Lorin at 5:52 PM on September 30, 2011


(Not that CNN or Jezebel are any better than Reddit here.)
posted by bukvich at 5:53 PM on September 30, 2011


I don't get the defense.

It's weird to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that gets uneasy by the weird sometimes defense of possible child porn that happens around here. I know there is a backlash against how sex offender laws get abused, but I think the defense goes above and beyond. I know guys get upset because if you're an adult male and look at a woman, you're automatically assumed to be a leering perv, almost regardless of the woman's age.

But the pushback goes to far in my opinion. There are askmes and other discussions around here where "possible sex offender" comes up and the defense always seems to be weirdly over the top, almost demanding that people with kids "not worry" about leaving their kids around or in places and with people when there is a reasonable chance that there is indeed something to be sincerely concerned about.

The problem with this situation is that people are gathering pictures together of young girls and saying "Men, look at these underage girls sexually - look at this one, and this one." And I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous and is basically offering up fodder for people who can't control their impulses (and might genuinely be trying to).

I think it's weak for Reddit to hide here. Delete that subreddit and don't try that slippery slope shit. That's what's so great about Metafilter's command team. They make decisions and reject that line of argument that people use in trying to back them into a corner with that "well what about *this* post? they did it toooo!" Reddit should delete that subreddit, because that's what they want to do. It doesn't have to lead down some extended series of reddit users trying to back the site into a corner. I think a lot of people don't realize just how good the (ever increasing) moderation team here performs their work.
posted by cashman at 6:02 PM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Has anyone put forth the theory that there's a lot of 16 year-old dudes on reddit for whom it's not so odd to be looking at "jailbait" girls?
posted by GuyZero at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


GuyZero: "Has anyone put forth the theory that there's a lot of 16 year-old dudes on reddit for whom it's not so odd to be looking at "jailbait" girls?"

This actually complements my policy of just assuming that everyone on reddit is a 16 year-old doofus until proven otherwise.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:12 PM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


30,000 responses to a demographics survey, from last month, posted on the Reddit blog. As I sort the data, it looks like about 2600 females and males under 18, so the ration, per the survey, would be something like 9% of the userbase is males under 18. Maybe the data people in the house can look at it and see what they think. Maybe I looked at it wrong.
posted by cashman at 6:26 PM on September 30, 2011


It is shit and I hate it.

Yes, what an awful place.

It is wheat and chaff. You just need to learn how to separate it.
posted by D_I at 6:46 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Navelgazer writes "I don't care about the first amendment 'question' of this since this isn't protected speech and a DA who felt like flexing could bring it down pretty easily. "

How? Reddit doesn't host any of this stuff.

This, of course, alludes to you writes "is there any way we can make sure they don't establish a similar site elsewhere if this is closed down"

There are all sorts of snarky replies that come to mind but in short: No. And in fact there are probably more of these aggregaters already floating around then there are active Metafilter members. Heck there is an active Flickr tag.
posted by Mitheral at 6:49 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Response to all the anti-Anderson Cooper posts...
Reporting looting after a devastating earthquake, he sees a hurt kid and without a thought, runs to save him from gunfire and falling debris. He has personally fed children in Somalia and was attacked by mobs in Egypt and bandaged wounds and risked serious disease to help other people. You are all just mad because reddit is being poorly looked upon right now instead of focusing on the victimized children that are featured on this site. Instead of villainizing an outstanding human being and a damn good journalist like Anderson Cooper, you should be trying to get things like r/jailbait off this site. It shouldn't be on here if it's illegal.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:00 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am one of reddit's biggest defenders here but I'm not going to attempt to defend /r/jailbait or any of the other more objectionable subreddits. As far as I know, they are all legal pictures BUT I think the context in which they are posted makes it somewhat different than facebook beach pics or pics of HS womens track and field. There are also people in that viewing that subreddit, it is not all 40 years old basement dwellers, but that is neither here nor there.

There is a lot of good and a lot of bad over there. I admire the fact that the admins are trying to stay hands off with the subreddits but /r/jailbait has got to go. Most of the objectionable subreddits are the work of one person, IMO he should be banned.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:36 PM on September 30, 2011


Yes, what an awful place.

Did you read the comments on that thread? Seemed like half of them were "Well Russians raped a gajillion people so gramps shouldn't be too grateful!" Really low level of discourse there.
posted by smoke at 7:36 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fundamentally it boils down to what moot said here

I'm curious, would you take sterile Facebook comments over provocative YouTube comments?

Communities of that size cannot take the same curatorial approach that MetaFilter does. Moot, and the reddit admins have been willing to accept the worst of what people have to offer hoping that the best will shine through. But once the spotlight is turned towards those communities people will comment on the grime and the filth, as opposed to those precious spots that sparkle.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:47 PM on September 30, 2011


I've removed almost all of the mainstream subreddits (reddit.com, pics, gaming, etc) from my main page because I was just upset by them on a regular basis. Jailbait isn't the worst of reddit, but the thing is I've seen the worst of reddit elsewhere on reddit pretty regularly. People link to be the beating women subreddit and some of the white supremacy ones and picsofdeadkids enough that if you're on most of the big/mainstream subreddits, you're gonna find links to them.

There's a really pervasive attitude of sexism/misogyny/anti-feminism, a LOT of racism. I think maybe either the "controversial beliefs" or "offensive jokes" clusterfucks got linked here a while back and was deleted after like 5 minutes on account of outragefilter, which is a good thing.

RedditorBingo says this better than I do, really.
posted by NoraReed at 8:43 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did you read the comments on that thread?

Yes, you pointed out that half were shit. I'll give 75% were useless. There were also questions and answers there that you won't get from an article or interview.
posted by D_I at 8:53 PM on September 30, 2011


MetaFilter: the inflated sense of self-importance some members display.
posted by Scoo at 9:06 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


People link to be the beating women subreddit and some of the white supremacy ones and picsofdeadkids enough that if you're on most of the big/mainstream subreddits, you're gonna find links to them.

I've been hanging around on reddit for a couple of years now and this is the first I've heard of any of those. Then again I've never bothered much with the subreddits - I just sort of browse through whatever shows up on the main page, and r/programming.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:06 AM on October 1, 2011


Sorry for slightly off topic. I am just looking at reddit for the first time over last couple of days. 1) Is there some way to see a full directory of all the sites on reddit? 2) some guidance somewhere about how to set up my reddit home page?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:38 AM on October 1, 2011


there is reddit.com/reddits, subredditfinder.com, metareddit.com.

I'm not aware of a real full list, maybe someone else is.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:30 AM on October 1, 2011


Related
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:16 AM on October 1, 2011


RedditorBingo says this better than I do, really.

You know, I am pretty sure there used to be a MeFi bingo that was very similar.

Related

It really is all about context and intent. The same model, the same location, but a different intent changes the situation. I agree of course, but it is a a very fine line. I supposed it is the same line they used to draw back in the day between art with nude models and pornography. Prurient interest.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:42 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


So reddit is as much of a cesspool as I suspected? Nice.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:18 PM on September 30


No, it isn't. This is one of thousands of subreddits, and for you to generalise the whole huge site on the basis of it is bigoted and stupid.
posted by Decani at 4:14 AM on October 1, 2011


And I really don't get the Reddit hate that seems so pervasive here.
posted by Gator at 8:24 PM on September 30


Snide envy of a vastly more popular site. The knee-jerk, uninformed (or barely-informed) sniping that goes on here positively reeks of it.
posted by Decani at 4:16 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decani: "Snide envy of a vastly more popular site. The knee-jerk, uninformed (or barely-informed) sniping that goes on here positively reeks of it."

That's an extremely strange reading of this thread.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:39 AM on October 1, 2011


@mitheral

are you sure? it seems doable to me, we just need the technology
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:03 AM on October 1, 2011


Does this mean Reddit is the new 4chan?

It has always been 4chan, but with experience points.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:57 AM on October 1, 2011


Metafilter is just as lame as Anderson Cooper at dealing with the reality that is Reddit. How can they let this happen? Why don't they do something about it? Isn't somebody in charge here? Isn't that the way media works? You know, isn't somebody in charge? Doesn't media work by having central organizations that disseminate the media, with corresponding filters and the kind of hierarchical control structure we expected from newsprint and television distributorship?

Reddit took a principled stand about offensive jokes: To everyone reporting this post: This doesn't break any rules of askreddit. If you're offended, then maybe you should have made better decisions after reading the title of the post...It's staying up no matter how many times you report it. but Metafilter deleted it.

Metafilter and Anderson Cooper are going about this the wrong way. Anything short of obviously illegal behavior cannot be filtered. You can't decide what is good or bad for other people. You can't decide this because of the Law of Requisite Variety. It's not a choice that you have. Once you get past a certain level of information flow, you can't do it because it's not possible for information to get processed that quickly.

It's not something coming out of someone's basement. It's the only way the future can move forward.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:00 AM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter deleted it, because Metafilter chooses to be a fundamentally different place. And that's just fine.
posted by waraw at 6:04 AM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Indeed, Metafilter is Metafilter, and that post got a heroic amount of flags, even at 5 in the morning on I think a Sunday. That was the Metafilter community saying no, and the moderation team evaluating it and saying no. If thats lame to you, ok, but thats Metafilter. Good luck with "the future" at Reddit, if we're too lame for you here.
posted by cashman at 6:11 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter chooses to be a fundamentally different place

That only works if Metafilter chooses to be a very small place. You can retreat to the mountains and try to keep the immigrants out, but that kind of strategy doesn't scale.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:13 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter chooses to be a unique place. Signups are not free, moderation exists, the community has standards. In effect, that does mean that MetaFilter chooses to be a smaller place than Reddit, but that is actually okay, believe it or not.
posted by Gator at 6:35 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter is not a country and we are fine being small and being populated with people who mostly like things the way we do things here. The immigrant metaphor doesn't make sense if you're not talking about nation states. We try not to change the way we do things here too terribly much so that people can assess what the place is like and make their decisions. MetaFilter is, in fact, choosing to be a very small place. We have a team of employees who all have health insurance and retirement plans and small but steady growth that supports that. It's nice here. It scales fine. That said, there's a difference between a post staying on Reddit and a post about Reddit staying on MetaFilter. Different sites, different rules, and a different level of meta.
posted by jessamyn at 6:42 AM on October 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Please don't get me wrong. I love Metafilter. I like the way we do things here. I don't want Metafilter to turn into Reddit.

I'm happy that Metafilter is choosing to be a very small place. I know that Metafilter is not a nation state. It's a community centering around certain commonalities of interest and background, and to the extent that those commonalities have any persistence over the next few decades I believe that Metafilter will continue, even if that means that certain types of content will be suppressed.

For what it's worth, jessamyn, I got a bunch of MeFi mails supporting that post about offensive jokes. I've made plenty of bad posts here before without any supporting MeFi mails, so that was unusual. It only scares me just the tiniest bit to think that there really isn't a bottom-up consensus from "the community" about appropriate content filtration, and that perhaps a dominant majority could inhibit the variety of content available here.

Reddit handles this by trusting users without assuming any knowledge of what they want and without assuming the legal and editorial responsibilities of perfect content filtration, but I'd love to see a workable alternative.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:15 AM on October 1, 2011


This, of course, alludes to you writes "are you sure? it seems doable to me, we just need the technology"

Well no one has been successful in similar projects in the past despite millions of dollars of effort and cooperation between private industry and several governments. You are essentially calling for censorship and the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. The whole system is engineered to be robust in the face of damage.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


twoleftfeet: Dude, there's an unrestricted and effectively unlimited supply of media and information and opinion. What Reddit does is the same thing that Metafilter or the New York Times or Fox News does, which is filter out approximately all of it in favor of a few bits and pieces based on their unique brands of ruthless culling. Reddit exists to limit what you see. That's the value added.

There is finite space on the front page and finite time to spend and finite attention to be paid. Turns out the hivemind frequently upvotes utter shit. This is not expanding the discourse, it's straight up substituting shit for (potentially) not shit.

The information you receive is going to be curated by someone. Letting the mob rule results in increasingly narrow and facile content pitched to the lowest common denominator of whichever dominating subgroup drives off the others through its own inherent unpleasantness.
posted by Ictus at 7:26 AM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually I think twoleftfeet is arguing that that (now deleted) post was curation, and the "mob rule" was the flags, and the "increasingly narrow and facile content" is the blue without a link to a site with a post featuring the sickest or most controversial shit you've heard or can think up at the moment. Of course, many of us disagree with that.
posted by cashman at 7:31 AM on October 1, 2011


This is not expanding the discourse, it's straight up substituting shit for (potentially) not shit.

Yeah, maybe. But one man's shit is another man's not shit. I don't know how we agree on this shit/notshit thing, but I do know that the test cases are going to be the extreme cases.

I'm not really sure what I'm arguing at this point, except that I think that Anderson Cooper is wrong to think that Reddit should filter content which might be offensive but which isn't actually illegal, or to think that kind of filtering is something that people really need. And I don't want Metafilter to turn into Anderson Cooper. I think that Metafilter could have the occasional offensive post that would piss people off, but it would still be a Good Thing.

You know, when Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was first performed it caused a riot in the audience, but now audiences generally like that piece. When John Singer Sargent's painting "Madame Pierre Gautreau" was unveiled it caused an uproar because of the scandalous reddish pink color of her ear lobe, but now that painting is considered somewhat pleasant. I can name many books that were burned when they were first published, but which now are considered classics of literature and I can name several scientific theories that were controversial when first expounded but are now considered standard. I can cite the swiveling hips of Elvis, which more than one mother warned her children against. I can cite other shit like this, which later became not-shit...

My point is that if you have a strong system of content filtration, coming from a dominant community or perhaps a handful of editors, then you run the risk of missing out on some good stuff, and that maybe sometimes it's worth letting things go long enough to let the audience really make up its mind. The alternative just seems boring to me.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:55 AM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The content is even more strictly filtered here.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:01 AM on October 1, 2011


I've rarely looked at reddit and the few times I have - it's quite juvenile and egotistical.

Interesting that the child-like alien icon they use puts on a beard for the porn section.

The debate of what role does hate literature/ideas/visuals has, or has not in our Society. is much bigger than redditt.
posted by what's her name at 8:07 AM on October 1, 2011


It would be far more productive to reach out to the members of that subreddit and show them how their activity is harmful and that there are better ways to express themselves or achieve their goals.

Lulz!

So, I rarely visit there. Not trying to be too dismissive but assumed their userbase is far from cohesive or amenable to this sort of suggestion. Does that sort of thing ever work?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:33 AM on October 1, 2011


if you have a strong system of content filtration, coming from a dominant community or perhaps a handful of editors

Except we don't. We have a lightly-moderated site where the people who have moderator powers mostly do the bidding of the people who use the flagging feature. If you still have issues with the deletion at this point, I think you need to take it to MetaTalk or feel free to email us about it. I'm aware that it stings when a post you care about gets deleted. That said, I don't know a way to put this any more plainly: sometimes we make judgment calls about posts where we use our own personal editorial discretion. This was not one of those times. Your post was flagged more than any post in recent memory. The fact that it also had its supporters does not obviate the fact that it was not a good post for MetaFilter. The fact that it's a giant wonderful internet out there means that people who really enjoyed that content can still interact with people who feel likewise, on Reddit or elsewhere.

We are completely okay with the fact that there is a bit of curation going on here and that it means that we will sometimes miss out, as a site, on things that some people find personally valuable. The same could be said for self-linking. Sometimes people self-link things that are actually pretty great. However, on balance, we don't want to be a site that allows or encourages self-linking so we have a bright line rule about it. All we can do is be above-board about our process and how the whole system works and people can make their own decisions about how they want to interact with people here. Reddit does the same thing, they just draw the lines differently.
posted by jessamyn at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


And I don't want Metafilter to turn into Anderson Cooper.

Uh ...

Yeah. For one thing I'd have to get a whole new wardrobe.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2011


I've rarely looked at reddit and the few times I have - it's quite juvenile and egotistical.

According to Alexa, in the U.S., Reddit is the 43rd most trafficked site. Metafilter comes in at 628. That may not seem like a huge difference, but because user numbers decay exponentially with traffic rank, that factor of 10.5 means that Reddit gets on the order of few billion page views per month, and Metafilter gets somewhere on the order of a few million page views per month.

If you only use Metafilter, and you never use Reddit, then you're kind of in the same position as someone in Philadelphia extrapolating local expectations to all of North America, Central America, South America, and Europe. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but very roughly those are the kinds of orders of magnitude we're talking about. Saying something like "based on my experience with Philadelphia, Philadelphia is good and all of the Americas and Europe are bad" wouldn't be reasonable, and it's not reasonable to say things like that about Reddit.

Just rough ballpark figures here, just to get some idea of what we're talking about.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


And jessamyn, I'm not complaining about a post deletion here. Although it can sting when a post gets deleted, I never felt stung when that post about offensive jokes got deleted. It was an extreme case, and it didn't bother me when it got deleted.

CNN (Alexa rank 17, by the way) has a spokesperson saying "I'd never heard of Reddit before" and making disparaging remarks about Reddit's apparent inability to prevent "offensive" content from appearing. I see an interesting parallel here with how "offensive" content is handled on Metafilter, so I brought it up in this thread.

There's no axe grinding here. I didn't even bring my axe.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:57 AM on October 1, 2011


@mitheral

i know, i'm being sarcastic/facetious
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2011


If you think r/jailbait is the worst thing on reddit, then let me not introduce you to ... r/spacedicks

I'm having difficulty imagining what this would be.

(at work, not taking a chance)
posted by krinklyfig at 9:05 AM on October 1, 2011


Best answer to that I ever saw, "Why Billy, it's just pictures of dicks in space."
posted by waraw at 9:08 AM on October 1, 2011


@ictus
Dude, there's [...] exists to limit what you see. That's the value added.
actually i would argue that it serves to find and aggregate rather than filter, the internet has a lot of stuff on it but finding it is problematic
There is finite space on the front page and finite time to spend and finite attention to be paid. Turns out the hivemind frequently upvotes utter shit. This is not expanding the discourse, it's straight up substituting shit for (potentially) not shit.
are you ok, would you like a mug of juice
The information you receive is going to be curated by someone.
curated more like curetted (that word has too much prestige for what it's being used for and makes my skin crawl)
Letting the mob rule results in increasingly narrow and facile content pitched to the lowest common denominator of whichever dominating subgroup drives off the others through its own inherent unpleasantness.
yeah i used to think it was a compliment when people called me 'elitist'. the majority chooses poorly/is poorly educated, surely the answer is to take decisions our of their hands and put them in those of a few dudes (who i know and agree with me), that will improve everybody's lot, stratification what is that

basically i suggest reading confederacy of dunces or something
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:15 AM on October 1, 2011


twoleftfeet: "And I don't want Metafilter to turn into Anderson Cooper. I think that Metafilter could have the occasional offensive post that would piss people off, but it would still be a Good Thing. "

Are you pressing an argument that we don't already have occasional offensive posts that piss people off, and that we are missing out exposure to the next Stravinsky because of the site's moderation policies?
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:22 AM on October 1, 2011


krinklyfig: "
I'm having difficulty imagining what this would be.
"

Well, my hopes for dicks in space helmets dressed as astronauts or aliens or stormtroopers were sorely dashed. Yet again, mob rule has failed me.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2011


Best answer to that I ever saw, "Why Billy, it's just pictures of dicks in space."

So like Pauly D just floating around in the ether?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:33 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Gawker is to be believed, this show is in trouble for a producer encouraging a teen to do stupid stuff, which ended up with the teen in a coma.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


That metafilter has standards stricter than "if it's legal you can post it" is something we all knew before we came here, and it's the reason the site looks the way it does and not like, for example, kuro5hin.

Reddit has clearly and deliberately staked out a position in between those two, doing some site cleanup but keeping it to a minimum. With regard to pictures, squicky or otherwise, they have clearly and deliberately decided that if it's legal, it's OK.

So the answer to Anderson's "Oh noes whatever can we do about this" is "use the law." Which brings us to the question, are the pictures in r/jailbait illegal?

And whatever you think of the people who may be fapping to those pics, inasmuch as they show kids wearing clothes or otherwise shielding the relevant naughty bits, trust me when I advise that you do not want to live in the country where the answer to that question is "yes." Intent does not and should not matter; there needs to be a clear, objective bright line or you will have idiots trying to make plush toys illegal because of their abuse by Furries. That bright line doesn't exist for actual children, and this is enough of a problem as it is. But AFAIK for teenagers it's pretty clear that nudity is that line. The Sears catalog was never made illegal because of people fapping to the lingerie section back when instant porn machines weren't ubiquitous, and this is really no different.
posted by localroger at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


And whatever you think of the people who may be fapping to those pics, inasmuch as they show kids wearing clothes or otherwise shielding the relevant naughty bits, trust me when I advise that you do not want to live in the country where the answer to that question is "yes."

Yeah. I can think of a lot of things -- many of which are mefi standards -- which are much, much more "offensive" to the average person than /r/jailbait. Links to fetlife, for example. I support sites like /r/jailbait not because I really love creepy dudes wanking to myspace-angle mirror-shots of 16 year olds, but because arguing that legal things should be removed because they're "offensive" gives the majority a club they can easily turn and beat me with. And they will. They will.

It seems to me that people who want the internet to have sex and porn and kink yet support this sort of huffy "oh oh think of the children" nonsense have forgotten where the concept of obscenity comes from, and who it's meant to keep down. In a world where using the word "gay" too often will get you an R rating for the preview of your AIDS documentary, it's stunningly unwise to give this sort of "community standards" bullshit any more ammo than it already has.
posted by vorfeed at 1:01 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Links to fetlife, for example. I support sites like /r/jailbait not because I really love creepy dudes wanking to myspace-angle mirror-shots of 16 year olds, but because arguing that legal things should be removed because they're "offensive" gives the majority a club they can easily turn and beat me with.

I believe the major difference between most fetish sites and /r/jailbait is informed consent. I understand that many of the pictures posted at the reddit subsite are not posted by the person in the picture. A lot of it is like upskirt pictures in that sense, really. In other words, not always strictly illegal, but without informed consent there is a big red flag.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


@vorfeed
" gives the majority a club they can easily turn and beat me with. And they will. They will.
you're forgetting that the internet is owned privately and if you don't like it you're free to

uh

make your own... internet

ideologically libertarian talking points are a privilege not a right
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:38 PM on October 1, 2011


Reddit took a principled stand about offensive jokes

They just let the post stand. Also keep in mind that the moderation staff of AskReddit is not the same as the mod staff of reddit itself or r/reddit.com; each subreddit has its own moderation staff. Some of them are pretty good about not letting people be assholes (TwoXChromosomes is lovely).
posted by NoraReed at 3:28 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


krinklyfig, you open a Pandora's box. I've only gone a couple of pages in, but my impression is that most of the pics in /r/jailbait are taken with obvious posing and hamming it up by the subject. Now it's obvious that model release standards are not being followed, but that's also true of the whole rest of the internet for the most part. Do I need to get model releases from all the people who are recognizable in my vacation pics to post them on flickr? Whether you realize it or not, that's where you are going with this.
posted by localroger at 3:47 PM on October 1, 2011


krinklyfig, you open a Pandora's box. I've only gone a couple of pages in, but my impression is that most of the pics in /r/jailbait are taken with obvious posing and hamming it up by the subject.

I think the question is open whether this is true.

Do I need to get model releases from all the people who are recognizable in my vacation pics to post them on flickr?

No, but you're posting them on flickr not reddit's /r/jailbait. I realize someone else may post pictures from flickr to reddit. However, reddit could certainly improve their standards, however they choose not to do so.

Whether you realize it or not, that's where you are going with this.

I'm not proposing making this sort of thing illegal. I'm saying there is a difference between a fetish site which is about informed consent as a rule and reddit's /r/jailbait which doesn't have any such standard.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:54 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Over the years since it was first launched, I've gone back to reddit once every few months to see if it still bothered me as much as it always had, and nothing has changed for me yet.

My problem with the site (other than it being corporately owned) is that it is, always has been, and inexplicably continues to be aggressively ugly and unusable. It gives me a headache just looking at it. And despite many people pointing me to 'good stuff' there over the years, more and more as the site has gained mindshare, often people whose opinions on other things I greatly respect, I've yet to see anything there that offers enough value to me to overcome the annoyance that the ugliness causes me.

Subsites like this 'jailbait' one just make me less inclined to ever try again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:11 PM on October 1, 2011


Why do most of the comments seem to be of the "well, r/jailbait is horrible and reprehensible but it's not reddit's fault" formula? Why not actually defend the speech which you're so adamant should be protected, instead of make half-assed arguments about culpability? r/jailbait isn't breaking the law, it's not hate speech, it doesn't involve bigotry... it's a bunch of pictures that teen girls had taken/took of themselves, and a bunch of guys who like ogling them. It's definitely among the less harmful applications of the internet.
posted by tehloki at 4:38 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's a bunch of pictures that teen girls had taken/took of themselves, and a bunch of guys who like ogling them. It's definitely among the less harmful applications of the internet.

What? How is prompting mostly grown men to get sexually excited over pictures of underage little girls viewed as "eh..not that harmful"? To have mostly grown men stare at pictures of other people's children, and imagine doing sexually explicit things to them? They're children.
posted by cashman at 4:56 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, but you're posting them on flickr not reddit's /r/jailbait.

It's exactly the same thing.
posted by localroger at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2011


It's exactly the same thing.

Clearly it's not. Sorry you can't see it. I'm not really interested in explaining this further.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:38 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


But AFAIK for teenagers it's pretty clear that nudity is that line.

I don't think that's the case. There are nude images of children and teenagers which are not child pornography (some of the work of photographer Sally Mann, for example) and there are images of clothed adolescents whose possession have triggered successful prosecutions for child pornography (the Knox case is one instance). I believe the legal standard is "“lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area,” but that has proven to be something besides a bright line when it comes to classifying the legality of images of minors.
posted by layceepee at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is the Gawker article about Angie Varona.

Also, people need to remember the differences between Torts and Crimes. Posting the pictures without permission isn't a crime but the victims could sue reddit or imgur. A lot of the jailbait pictures could be illegal on copyright grounds, but that's no different then most of the content there.
posted by delmoi at 8:59 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This &c: i aint even mad

first finding and filtering are like the same thing?? also i think people should get what they want but every method of polling makes distortions tho some systems are better. im just saying as a system reddits filtering methods are dumb + unsatisfying for its users! which is why they complain about karma whoring and reposts! ok
posted by Ictus at 9:39 PM on October 1, 2011


To have mostly grown men stare at pictures of other people's children, and imagine doing sexually explicit things to them? They're children.

Do you have something against the exercise of imagination? Are you unaware of the fact that most grown men find pretty much anything with developed female secondary sex characteristics sexually attractive? Your views are certainly naive, if not outright bigoted. I guess you're lucky, though... most of the rest of the internet shares them.
posted by tehloki at 11:18 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weak, man. That's just weak.
posted by cashman at 11:23 PM on October 1, 2011


krinklyfig, whether you feel like "explaining" anything to me or not, allow me to explain something to you:

I have sold photographs, for actual money, to businesses which have printed them on actual paper and put them in newsstands. I have both signed and solicited model releases. I am well aware of the legalities of publishing photographs.

So please accept that I know what I am talking about when I say that posting a photograph on flickr and posting it on /r/reddit are exactly the same. You may not feel that is true morally but it is certainly true legally and any steps you take to suppress the /r/reddit creeps can and will be used to suppress much more innocent fare according to the whims of whoever complains loudest.
posted by localroger at 7:45 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


layceepee, I stated up front that there is no bright line for children and that's a problem, as there have been prosecutions for people getting their own baby bath pics developed. The subject matter of /r/reddit is teenagers who would be old enough to marry around much of the world.
posted by localroger at 7:47 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I downloaded their picture, would you hunt me down too?
posted by Trurl at 1:21 PM on September 30 [1 favorite +] [!]


Are you unaware of the fact that most grown men find pretty much anything with developed female secondary sex characteristics sexually attractive? Your views are certainly naive, if not outright bigoted. I guess you're lucky, though... most of the rest of the internet shares them.
posted by tehloki at 11:18 PM on October 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


BAAAAWWWW.

Your not an oppressed group because you like jerking your cock to pictures of 14 year olds.

Yeah r/jailbait is legal, so fucking what? A bunch of creepy fucks are creepy, and yeah, it's cool reddit is kind of an ffa, but there was actually cp on reddit which was looked at by the exact same people who are on jailbait. r/jailbait is not illegal, so whatever, but the white knighting of fat middle-aged neckbeards is stupefyingly hilarious.
posted by Snyder at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah r/jailbait is legal, so fucking what?

So the proper and best answer to Anderson Cooper's pumped up plea of "OH NOES WHATEVER SHOULD WE DO" is NOTHING.

fat middle-aged neckbeards

Can I borrow that broad brush sometime? My house needs painting and that will really speed up the job.
posted by localroger at 12:25 PM on October 2, 2011


So please accept that I know what I am talking about when I say that posting a photograph on flickr and posting it on /r/reddit are exactly the same.
There is a different 'social contract' on flickr then there is on /r/jailbait, or the rest of reddit. Most of the pictures on flickr are expected to be taken by the poster. There are obviously accounts on flickr that are full of jailbait pics and those accounts are just as creepy as /r/jailbait. It's not the physical act of putting a picture on flickr vs. putting it on imgur and listing it on reddit (I actually find imgur a better host for personal photos then flickr now)

If you watch the Angie Varona interview you can see just how much it upsets people to have their pictures re-purposed this way
posted by delmoi at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2011


So the proper and best answer to Anderson Cooper's pumped up plea of "OH NOES WHATEVER SHOULD WE DO" is NOTHING.

Or, y'know, call creepy as you see it. After all, the answer to free speech isn't repression, but more speech. Which is what I think the AC360 piece was.
posted by waraw at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi, when it comes to the question of whether I will be charged with a crime or sued for selling or publishing a photo, your "different social contract" doesn't exist. The law is the law. It applies exactly the same to putting my vacation photos, which might include recognizable images of other people, on any particular Internet forum as it does to /r/jailbait. The law does not (and frankly should not, that way lies madness) attempt to make a distinction. Once we put the law in charge of taste nobody is safe.

waraw, I do recall using the word creeps. Frankly this isn't my kink; I actually prefer (and always have) somewhat older women, because as my wife once quipped "who wants to dominate a wimp?" But the clubs you give the law to beat down the things you don't like will eventually be used against you.
posted by localroger at 3:09 PM on October 2, 2011


delmoi, when it comes to the question of whether I will be charged with a crime or sued for selling or publishing a photo, your "different social contract" doesn't exist. The law is the law.
Localroger, is your brain turned off? Do you not understand the difference between pictures you have rights too and pictures you don't? If I post a picture of myself on flickr, who is going to sue me, myself? If I post pictures of my friends on flickr, that I take myself, am I going to get sued? It's very unlikely.

On the other hand if someone pulls photos down off facebook and puts them in their own flickr stream for pervs to look at then that is creepy (I've actually seen flickr feeds that seemed to be full of stolen images, by the way.

Of course it doesn't matter if the pictures are on facebook flickr or Reddit or wherever. What matters is whether or not the person posting the photo has permission to post it. A lot of times the permission is implicit.

Anyway, just to clarify:
I will be charged with a crime or sued for selling or publishing a photo, your "different social contract" doesn't exist. The law is the law.
If you want to be technical, it's always illegal to post pictures you don't own the copyright to. It's just that it's very unlikely that you'll have that big of a problem if you're just posting photographs of your friends. If you're posting pictures on /r/jailbait it's more likely.

That said it's still probably unlikely that anyone will get sued over this, but the question is the ethics of the situation. Taking people's pictures without permission and posting them to a forum for people to wank while looking at them is unethical, especially pictures teenage girls just take to share with their friends or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 3:39 PM on October 2, 2011


delmoi, you are totally blowing past the point here. If I take a vacation photo and it contains a recognizable image of a person's face, I'm supposed to get a model release if I publish that picture. If I publish it without that release it's a tort, and I can be sued. Yet there are thousands upon thousands of vacation pics posted online for general enjoyment that show peoples' faces who haven't signed model releases. These are all, technically, torts, and the web generally ignores the problem because solving it would make sites like Flickr unsustainable.

Now the situation in /r/jailbait is that the vast majority of these pictures were taken with permission (and often by the model herself), but not with the permission to publish them in a venue like /r/jailbait. The thing is, if you are going to set things up so that some big hammer will come down when pictures are republished without permission or pictures without valid model releases are published without permission, legally that is going to encompass just about every other image on the entire Internet. You do not want to go there.

When we are talking about "solutions" to "problems" like /r/jailbait we are always talking techicalities because we are talking about legalities. And the law is in many ways (and deliberately so) blind. The club you create to rid us of the /r/jailbait perverts will, as surely as God made little fishes, be used on something you like next.
posted by localroger at 3:52 PM on October 2, 2011


Isn't linking to something different than "publishing" it? And isn't all of reddit only linking to things?
posted by andoatnp at 5:03 PM on October 2, 2011


andoatnp, you've got a point, in that a lot of the images on /r/jailbait are just linked, which makes it a REALLY BAD can of worms to "do something about it." But some are hosted by the posters or off sites like flickr, and in those cases we still have to ask what the legalities are, which are a bit more complex but in the end "doing something about it" results in minitruth at your door.
posted by localroger at 5:08 PM on October 2, 2011


I just think the Reddit moderators should delete that subreddit. No laws involved. But they don't seem to have the ability to manage nuance like the moderators here too. Seeing things like this just makes me love Mefi more and appreciate the dedication of our moderators in that they act, react and explain thoroughly their actions.

As was stated previously, Reddit is getting loads more traffic, is owned by a huge corporation, and presumably the moderators there make more money (or at least there is more money spread around to the tons of mods there). But they have this issue. Meanwhile, we have thousand comment discussions when the feeling gets to be that this place is a boyzone. The longer this gets debated, the more I appreciate what we have here, and the more I'm glad (like most of us here are) that we are what we are here.
posted by cashman at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2011


There are actually only a handful of actual Reddit admins who have control over the site as a whole, as far as I know. As for moderators, anybody can be one. They're not paid. Anybody can start their own subreddit, but they're just a mod, not an admin. They only have control over what goes on their particular subreddit(s). They have the power to add new moderators to that subreddit, remove them, remove posts from that subreddit,, ban posters from that subreddit, and so on. It really would only be comparable to MeFi if MeFi continued to balloon into something huge while still only maintaining an admin staff of a half-dozen or so.
posted by Gator at 6:14 PM on October 2, 2011


The creator of r/jailbait (violentacrez) is responsible for many of the worst subreddits (aside from being one of the most disagreeable people I've ever interacted with in any capacity). If there was a way to permanently remove him and his creations from reddit, the site would be better for it.
posted by Jpfed at 9:43 PM on October 2, 2011


The thing is, if you are going to set things up so that some big hammer will come down when pictures are republished without permission or pictures without valid model releases are published without permission, legally that is going to encompass just about every other image on the entire Internet. You do not want to go there.
What are you talking about? If people want to sue, they can. They're much more likely to sue (or threaten to sue) if they are in a jailbait forum. I'm not really sure what you're even trying to say: The situation where you can sue someone for posting your picture is already how things are.

In other words, if you take a photo off your friends facebook profile and post it to flickr, then in theory your friend could sue you and force you to take it down if they wanted too. But they probably wouldn't. On the other hand, if you took a picture off of facebook and posted it to /r/jailbait then they might be more likely to request it be taken down.

So essentially saying "it's the same as posting it anywhere else" is true, but "the same" in this case means they can sue you and force the image off if they want too. The only question is whether or not they would be motivated to do so.

Whether or not you get sued for your vacation photos, I'm not really sure about that. I'm under the impression that photos taken in public are OK to publish without a model release. So on vacation at the beach or whatever, you can post those photos.

But regardless, talking about torts is kind of irrelevant. The question here is whether or not posting the pictures in /r/jailbait is an OK thing to do and whether or not reddit has any responsibility to close the subreddit or whatever. Someone mentioned upthread that there had been another subreddit for even younger girls, which apparently got shut down, so where's the justification for not shutting this down.

Even more damning and kind of bizarre, they shut the subreddit down earlier when the founder added a bunch of "trolls" as moderators. But if reddit is really about "free speech" why not let the founder do whatever he wanted with the subreddit, including turning it into a troll board?
posted by delmoi at 12:43 AM on October 3, 2011


And by the way,
The thing is, if you are going to set things up so that some big hammer will come down when pictures are republished without permission or pictures without valid model releases are published without permission, legally that is going to encompass just about every other image on the entire Internet. You do not want to go there.
You wouldn't even need any new laws to do this. Just use some facial recognition technology. Users could upload a couple pictures, then the tool could scan the web for images that contained their face and, if they wanted, automatically send DMCA requests*

*(In practice you would need to have the user verify the picture was theirs, but once they did it for one copy duplicates could be targeted easily)
posted by delmoi at 12:50 AM on October 3, 2011


The question here is whether or not posting the pictures in /r/jailbait is an OK thing to do

Reddit has made it clear that their only concern is whether the pictures are legal. It's pretty clear to me that they are as legal as any other picture reposted on an internet forum; anything you do to force them to shut it down can also be used to force any other website to disable the image tag.

and whether or not reddit has any responsibility to close the subreddit or whatever.

The images are either legal or they're not. If they're legal, Reddit has no such obligation. If they're not, then it does.

Someone mentioned upthread that there had been another subreddit for even younger girls, which apparently got shut down,

This being a good example.

so where's the justification for not shutting this down.

Because it's not illegal?
posted by localroger at 5:40 AM on October 3, 2011


I'm under the impression that photos taken in public are OK to publish without a model release.

This is absolutely not true. If faces are recognizable, you should have permission before publishing the picture. There are exceptions for things like journalism, but those do not cover something like a vacation picture. The reasons it rarely comes up are that the practice of publishing vacation pictures is a relatively new thing, most get little exposure, and the potential damages would not justify the cost of litigation.
posted by localroger at 5:44 AM on October 3, 2011


I don't get the defense. I never paid attention to Reddit until someone here linked the Worst of Reddit. Child porn, racism, attacking rape victims...ugh.


...

It's weird to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that gets uneasy by the weird sometimes defense of possible child porn that happens around here.

The defense is a freedom of speech defense, and it's a very important one. Outside of explicitly forbidden content (slander/libel, hate speech, incitement to violence, child pornography, etc. (ianal)) we have the right to express ourselves any way we like. Publishing is part of that.

The site has its own standards (maybe) outside of the legal standards, so it can certainly say it won't publish specific content but (again, haven't look at the site, but going by descriptions), it's really hard for me to understand exactly what is so offensive about the site. Is it the naked (or semi-naked) women/girls? The name "jailbait" (implying under the age of legal consent)? Should any forum named "jailbait" be allowed to exist, even if it featured fully clothed men/boys?

I guess I'm having a hard time figuring out the exact content that is objectionable. It *seems* like people are reacting against an idea (men having sexual fantasies about teenage girls) rather than the actual published content (again, which I have not seen.)

I haven't looked at the site, but I have to assume it doesn't actually include child pornography. If the content is legal, we need to allow it, and it's critical we do so.

There are obviously issues of consent and legal permission involved with photographs of people, but aside from those issues, if the content meets the standards of legality, it shouldn't be censored.

No, but you're posting them on flickr not reddit's /r/jailbait.

Interesting question. Is it any different to post a picture (of any sort) to /r/jailbait vs. to Flick with the aforementioned "jailbait" tag. I don't think so.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:49 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm having a hard time figuring out the exact content that is objectionable. It *seems* like people are reacting against an idea (men having sexual fantasies about teenage girls) rather than the actual published content (again, which I have not seen.)[...]
There are obviously issues of consent and legal permission involved with photographs of people, but aside from those issues, if the content meets the standards of legality, it shouldn't be censored.


I strongly agree. If the idea is the problem here -- and it very obviously is -- then what makes this idea worse than other "offensive" ideas? Many, many people find photos of anal sex to be as much or more offensive than photos of clothed 16 year olds... and guess what? The vast majority of gay porn on the internet has been posted and re-posted and posted again, with zero consent or legal permission from the photographer and/or models. That's the way the internet works. It has always worked this way, and hopefully always will work this way, because the alternative is horrifying ("facial recognition technology"?!) and would be tantamount to putting a million busybody tattletales and their personal crusades in charge of what's acceptable online.

The child-porn thing has been used to suppress legal expression before. It's happened with art and with album covers, it's happened on livejournal, it's happened to people with bath photos and breastfeeding photos of their own kids, and it will keep happening until there's some major pushback against the idea that suppression of anything remotely like "child porn" should be not just judicial, but extra-judicial (except selling millions of "sexy lil' vampire" Halloween costumes and onesies with BIG AND JUICY written across 'em, of course -- that would affect corporate rights!)

It's amazing to me how eager people are to sell their own rights to stop "obscenity". Look around you: who is the most concerned about "offensive" and "obscene" expression? Are these people -- you know, the same folks who send gay children to reprogramming camps, and who want their morality to rule your bedroom -- your allies?

If not, why the hell are you fighting their battles for them?
posted by vorfeed at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Reddit has made it clear that their only concern is whether the pictures are legal.
No, as I said. They did shut down the board when violentacrez added 'trolls' as moderators to the board. If they care about free speech, why would they have shut it down then. Isn't it a violation of the guy's free speech rights to prevent him from turning it into a troll board?
The images are either legal or they're not. If they're legal, Reddit has no such obligation. If they're not, then it does.
Right because obviously what's legal and what's ethical are the same thing. It's totally impossible to think up any counter examples like wallstreet banks or oil companies or the revolving corporate/government door or anything like that. All totally ethical because they are totally legal.
Someone mentioned upthread that there had been another subreddit for even younger girls, which apparently got shut down,
This being a good example.
so where's the justification for not shutting this down.
Because it's not illegal?
Wait, what are you saying? That 'sexy' but clothed pictures of pre-pubecent girls is somehow 'more' illegal then 'sexy' but clothed pictures of 14-17 year old girls? Based on what? There's no legal distinction between pictures of 14 year olds and pictures of 10 year olds. If one is 'legal' then so would the other.

But reddit shut one of them down, because it's clearly even more offensive. And that's my point. They don't really care about 'free speech', they're just using it as an excuse.

Again two examples: Shutting down a subreddit for pictures of even younger girls, and shutting down /r/jailbait when violentacrez wanted to turn it into a troll board. Both were violations of "free speech" that they claim forces them to keep it open. There's obviously a line they won't cross, but which /r/jailbait doesn't.
This is absolutely not true. If faces are recognizable, you should have permission before publishing the picture.
Cite? Here's what wikipedia says on it's rule's page:
The consensus on Commons (subject to any local law to the contrary) is that the subject's consent is not usually needed for a straightforward photograph of an identifiable individual taken in a public place, but is usually needed for such a photograph taken in a private place. When required, evidence of consent would usually consist of an affirmation from the uploader of the media. This may be accomplished using the {{consent}} template.
But that's beside the point. You keep calling it 'legal' when in fact it's pretty obvious that most of the posters don't own copyrights to the images, which means the people who took the pictures could request to have them taken down.

Then you make some kind of convoluted claim that even if it is technically illegal it would be problematic to enforce those that across the entire internet, which is probably true. But then you extend that to saying, for some reason if we don't enforce it on every image we can't enforce it here. But there isn't any particular reason why that should be the case. As I said, you would only need new technology, not new laws to prevent this kind of thing.
posted by delmoi at 12:31 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi, when I was selling my photographs I was told that if a person's face was recognizable, I needed a model release. I was doing nature photojournalism, so pretty much every photo I ever sold was in a public place. This might have been overcaution on the part of my publishers but my understanding was that it was a pretty universal requirement.

That 'sexy' but clothed pictures of pre-pubecent girls is somehow 'more' illegal then 'sexy' but clothed pictures of 14-17 year old girls?

That clothed pictures, sexy or otherwise, of people of any age should not be illegal, full stop; but there is a certain hysteria over pictures of prepubescent children which seems to fade toward the teenage years, and they probably shut down the other board out of an abundance of caution toward this hysteria.

They don't really care about 'free speech', they're just using it as an excuse.

They have standards, they just don't have your standards. They don't want to get hauled into court like Paladin Press. They also don't want the board to descend into total chaos like kuro5hin. /r/jailbait is doing neither of those things and so it stands.

You keep calling it 'legal' when in fact it's pretty obvious that most of the posters don't own copyrights to the images

People do not own copyrights to the vast majority of pictures posted on the Internet. That isn't really the complaint w/r/t r/jailbait. Copyright violation is a tort which in a sane world in a situation like r/jailbait would result in one takedown and possibly a modest fine per instance. Child pornography is a crime which can get your entire site shut down over one image. There's a slight difference.

But then you extend that to saying, for some reason if we don't enforce it on every image we can't enforce it here.

That is because laws which are selectively enforced are tools of persecution. Laws which can only be enforced selectively should not exist, full stop.

As I said, you would only need new technology, not new laws to prevent this kind of thing.

You do not want to live under a government that has such technology and uses it in that way. There is no chance at all that they would stop after shutting down /r/jailbait.
posted by localroger at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is because laws which are selectively enforced are tools of persecution. Laws which can only be enforced selectively should not exist, full stop.

Couldn't have said it better.
posted by vorfeed at 2:23 PM on October 3, 2011


I strongly agree. If the idea is the problem here -- and it very obviously is -- then what makes this idea worse than other "offensive" ideas? Many, many people find photos of anal sex to be as much or more offensive than photos of clothed 16 year olds... and guess what? The vast majority of gay porn on the internet has been posted and re-posted and posted again, with zero consent or legal permission from the photographer and/or models. That's the way the internet works. It has always worked this way, and hopefully always will work this way, because the alternative is horrifying ("facial recognition technology"?!) and would be tantamount to putting a million busybody tattletales and their personal crusades in charge of what's acceptable online.
There are two separate issues here. One is stuff that's 'offensive'. Some of the pictures in /r/jailbait were apparently posted by the girls themselves. Which is creepy in it's own respect, and you could have pictures taken by creeps on the beach, or even parents posting their own children. Now, I would think that those things would be even more creepy but not an issue of copyright infringement.

The issue about gay porn, that's probably true of straight porn but it's still a violation of copyright. And there is lots of non-pornographic stuff that's taken and re-posted all the time. But there is a big difference between simple piracy and taking the personal photographs of little girls. All of these things are, hypothetically, actionable torts: the copyright holder could go after people who are re-hosting these images.

Major media companies already spider the web for their own content. That's why you can't find clips from Viacom shows on Youtube. Some high-end porn companies have actually gone the RIAA rout to try to go after people who pirate their movies on things like bittorent.

Now personally I'm against overzealous copyright infringement, but in the case of yanking photos off of facebook and then putting them somewhere like /r/jailbait I'm a little more sympathetic. People who do porn know they are doing porn. Teen girls who are just playing around with their friends aren't intentionally inviting people to jerk off to their photos. There's a huge difference.

In fact thinking about it more, it would be easy to automatically feed your facebook pictures into something like tineye or google's reverse image search and you could use that to send DMCA requests if you wanted too.
The child-porn thing has been used to suppress legal expression before. It's happened with art and with album covers, it's happened on livejournal, it's happened to people with bath photos and breastfeeding photos of their own kids, and it will keep happening until there's some major pushback against the idea that suppression of anything remotely like "child porn" should be not just judicial, but extra-judicial (except selling millions of "sexy lil' vampire" Halloween costumes and onesies with BIG AND JUICY written across 'em, of course -- that would affect corporate rights!)
This isn't about 'suppressing art'. It's about taking other people's content and repurposing it. The origional photos.

I'm not necessarily saying that this is a huge problem that needs that solution. I'm just pointing out, because people keep saying "this is legal" that, no, technically it's not legal, not because they are pictures of underage girls, but simply because they are violating copyright. What they're doing isn't a crime or anything like that.
They have standards, they just don't have your standards. They don't want to get hauled into court like Paladin Press. They also don't want the board to descend into total chaos like kuro5hin. /r/jailbait is doing neither of those things and so it stands.
Well, you can't have it both ways. Either you are a 'free speech' site, where anything goes, or you have standards. If you have standards then why not have a debate about what those standards should be? As far as 'descending into total chaos' I don't think that's as big of an issue due to the way the voting system works. They already have fucked up subreddits like /r/picsofdeadkids or whatever, neo-nazi subreddits and so on. So that's not really a valid excuse. And anyway the point still stands: Reddit does execute editorial oversight over their subreddits when they choose.
That is because laws which are selectively enforced are tools of persecution. Laws which can only be enforced selectively should not exist, full stop.
Uh dude these are civil issues. They are not 'enforced' by the government, but by civil litigants deciding to sue. They are by definition selective, because someone will only sue if they have a good reason.

And the point is, you can't say it's legal because it's not. It's not a criminal issue here but it is something that can be sued over. All I'm saying is the "It's legal" defense is not technically true because they don't own the copyrights.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on October 3, 2011


They have standards, they just don't have your standards.

So then don't act like they are doing anything noble here then. It's not some kind of free speech stand. They're doing it just because that's what they feel like doing. And then hiding behind free speech, just like it was said. They can run their site that way if they so choose. Just like playboy could put its next issue out as all 10-year old girls, fully clothed. Not illegal right? This whole "omg, it's a slippery slope! Be so very afraid!" - it's a cover. If you want to be a nasty fuck grown man who looks at little girls, do that. I, and I'm guessing most people don't want some law put in place to stop it (so you can give up trying to hide behind free speech). Just own up to what you like and what you're doing, and take whatever criticism comes your way. Again, don't post another comment (directed toward me at least) saying anything about how laws like this would be so damaging and to run and hide from them, because that's not the issue for many of us. I feel like I'm talking to Bizarre from d12.
posted by cashman at 4:49 PM on October 3, 2011


Actually I have a good example of so called 'selective-enforcement' of copyright/trademark issues. Remember when the whole "Chuck Norris" thing got popular?

A friend of mine had a tshirt-hell style online T-shirt store and he started selling Chuck Norris T-Shirts, as did lots of other people. The problem was that the rest of his t-shirts were really offensive. And, Chuck Norris is a hard-core evangelical christian, and he wasn't happy about it. So, Chuck Norris sent my friend a C&D to take down the t-shirt.

So here's the thing, by your 'logic' here Chuck Norris was persecuting my friend because he went after him but not other people who were cashing in on the Chuck Norris hysteria at the time.

But clearly that's ridiculous. Chuck Norris was fine with other sites and people making jokes about him, but he didn't want his likeness among lots of other gross and offensive t-shirts. Was it 'selective enforcement'? Of course. But so what?

Just like Chuck Norris gets to decide what is and is not OK in terms of using his likeness, teen girls have the same right to control where and when their images are displayed.

The other thing is that the world is already full of 'selective' copyright enforcement. Look at youtube. There's all kinds of things on there that are copyright, but the vast majority of rights-holders don't bother taking things down. A very few rights-holders do take things down. Viacom is one example but it would be absurd to say that fans of the the daily show are being persecuted because they can't post stuff while fans of Family Guy can
posted by delmoi at 5:18 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't about 'suppressing art'. It's about taking other people's content and repurposing it. The origional photos.

I didn't say that this was about "suppressing art". I said it was about suppressing legal expression, and it is. Linking to other people's photos is legal expression. Re-posting other people's photos is also legal expression. No amount of repeating the fact that one can (maybe, assuming that the photos were re-posted and the copyright owner can be found) be sued for copyright infringement will make it illegal, because copyright infringement is a tort, not a crime.

You may as well claim that metafilter is illegal because it involves extensively quoting other people's words, as the OP did above -- one can be sued for that, too.

It's not some kind of free speech stand. They're doing it just because that's what they feel like doing.

That is a free speech stand. Free speech does not necessarily obligate someone to say anything and everything; it is and always has been intended to protect "what people feel like doing".
posted by vorfeed at 5:23 PM on October 3, 2011


That is a free speech stand. Free speech does not necessarily obligate someone to say anything and everything; it is and always has been intended to protect "what people feel like doing".

So if Reddit censored everything on their website, deleted all subreddits that weren't people posting representations of the letter P, and it they then refused to take down some representation of the letter P, claiming free speech, you wouldn't find that ridiculous? Sure you would. You'd wonder why they were trying to stand up like principled defenders of free speech, when they clearly were not doing that.

Imagine the Reddit admin who deleted the previously noted subreddit with pictures of even-younger girls saying the cliche free speech adage - "I disagree with what you posted, but I'll defend to the death your right to do so. ... Oh and by the way I deleted what you posted."
posted by cashman at 5:48 PM on October 3, 2011


found on Shit Reddit Says: I wonder which authoritarian regimes are busy taking down all the free speech arguments used by reddit to justify looking at stolen, sexualised pictures of minors, to use in propaganda to justify their censorship and free speech.

I can easily see this happening the next time some Aussie politician wants to equate 'defender of free speech' with 'defender of child porn'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:05 PM on October 3, 2011


So then don't act like they are doing anything noble here then.

I have never said either Reddit or /r/jailbait is doing anything noble here. They are doing something that is and must be protected if the United States is anything like what it pretends to be.

TJ and the Louisiana Purchase notwithstanding (from another thread) the law either is a real thing or it isn't. There isn't much gray area there; once you decide you can blow away a US citizen without a trial or censor a publication for thoughtcrime (hey, remember when insex was shut down by the DOJ telling the banks they were funding terrorism and not to process their credit card transactions? Because maybe they would have been fucking humiliated if they had honestly done an obscenity prosecution against them? You remember those post-9/11 anti-terrorism laws that would never, ever, in a million years, cross my heart and hope to die, be abused, which were used to shut down a fucking porn site?)

What was I saying again? Oh yeah, the law is either the law or it's fucking anarchy on a stick. Reddit and the /r/jailbaiters are within their rights just as much as every other post on fark and everyone who posts a lolcat on dailykos. Fuck /r/jailbait over with your creative reinterpretation of the first amendment and the rest of us are in the path of the same lawnmower for various other technical reasons.
posted by localroger at 6:16 PM on October 3, 2011


If you have standards then why not have a debate about what those standards should be?

Reddit has its standards. Maybe they should invite Metafilter to inquire about why ours are so much more restrictive than theirs.
posted by localroger at 6:19 PM on October 3, 2011


So if Reddit censored everything on their website, deleted all subreddits that weren't people posting representations of the letter P, and it they then refused to take down some representation of the letter P, claiming free speech, you wouldn't find that ridiculous? Sure you would. You'd wonder why they were trying to stand up like principled defenders of free speech, when they clearly were not doing that.

I might find that ridiculous, yes. I might even suggest that the heavy-handed moderation on your hypothetical "Peddit" is a bad thing. But would refusing to take down some representation of the letter P still be a free speech stand? Yes.

Free speech doesn't magically stop applying just because you think other people are being inconsistent, nor because there are other things they're willing to delete. If it did, there would be little left of the right. After all, it's trivially easy to find something 99.9% of site owners will delete: spam.

omg omg how can Reddit stand up like principled defenders of free speech when they deleted that one weird old trick?!
posted by vorfeed at 6:27 PM on October 3, 2011


Uh dude these are civil issues. They are not 'enforced' by the government, but by civil litigants deciding to sue.

This is only true of the copyright thing, which is a side issue. Child porn is a criminal matter. Reddit obviously isn't too worried about the copyright angle, but it is worried about the fucking hysterical kiddie porn wingers.
posted by localroger at 6:31 PM on October 3, 2011


Coming from a place with less strong free speech, the Reddit defenders are behaving the way that Australian politicians and citizens imagine ALL free speech defenders behave.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:47 PM on October 3, 2011


So, Lovecraft, is your perception of our fringe supposed to be an argument for us to crush that fringe and align ourselves with your standards? Because if so, you're acting an awful lot like Americans are often occused of acting when we barge into other countries, and are rightly criticized for doing so.
posted by localroger at 6:54 PM on October 3, 2011




So, Lovecraft, is your perception of our fringe supposed to be an argument for us to crush that fringe and align ourselves with your standards? Because if so, you're acting an awful lot like Americans are often occused of acting when we barge into other countries, and are rightly criticized for doing so.


I didn't say it was a bad thing that Redditors were acting that way. I was simply stating a fact. I'm not sure what I believe, actually.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:58 PM on October 3, 2011


I'd rather Australians have much stronger free speech standards, to be honest. I'm just waiting for this case to be pulled out as another way to attack it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:59 PM on October 3, 2011


I didn't say that this was about "suppressing art". I said it was about suppressing legal expression, and it is. Linking to other people's photos is legal expression. Re-posting other people's photos is also legal expression. No amount of repeating the fact that one can (maybe, assuming that the photos were re-posted and the copyright owner can be found) be sued for copyright infringement will make it illegal, because copyright infringement is a tort, not a crime.
Torts are as much 'illegal' as crimes are. The point is, re-posting other people's photos without permission is not, strictly speaking, legal.
That is a free speech stand. Free speech does not necessarily obligate someone to say anything and everything; it is and always has been intended to protect "what people feel like doing".
Sure, but you're saying "this speech is acceptable to me", in which case you have to be willing to deal with the consequences of that. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism.

Also, this is only about a technical point. Whether or not /r/jailbait is 'legal'. It's illegal in a way that a lot of stuff on the internet is technically copyright violation. But on top of that the manner of violation is something that would motivate a lot of people to take action if they knew how too. Just look at the Angie Varona example. She was certainly pissed off that her pictures were stolen, and initially made a bunch of threats about lawsuits on the forum where the pictures were first posted.

And here's the thing. If you watch the video, it's pretty obvious that she was really hurt by what happened. I don't understand how people can justify morally doing this to innocent, random people (regardless of how old they are), but it seems like it can be more damaging to younger girls who could get bullied over it (as was the case with Angie Varona)

I'm not arguing for further restrictions of freedom of speech. And I'm typically someone who's against copyright. But in this case it seems like a completely reasonable application of copyright law.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not arguing for further restrictions of freedom of speech.

Actually, it seems that that is exactly what you are doing.

And I'm typically someone who's against copyright. But in this case it seems like a completely reasonable application of copyright law.

So the law is unreasonable, except when you arbitrarily decide it is reasonable. This is the very definition of selective enforcement and is a much greater evil than either copyright law itself or /r/jailbait
posted by localroger at 5:24 AM on October 4, 2011


So the law is unreasonable, except when you arbitrarily decide it is reasonable. This is the very definition of selective enforcement and is a much greater evil than either copyright law itself or /r/jailbait
No it's not. It's a selective opinion about where copyright is good and where it's not. I'm not doing any enforcement.

You're making some logical errors here. The first is that you're taking a principle of criminal law (selective enforcement is bad) and applying it to civil law. It's a fundamentally different thing.

Civil law is all about redressing harms. Very literally, if someone isn't bothered by something, there's no reason to sue. But if you feel harmed or bother then you're within your rights to sue, or at least request a take-down. Just like Chuck Norris did with my friend's T-shirt site, while ignoring lots of other sites that were making money off the Chuck Norris meme.

I mean, do you think Chuck Norris was somehow oppressing my friend by not letting him sell shirts while other sites did? That's a serious question.

Secondly if you watch the Angie Varona interview, it's very clear that these kind of picture trading can cause real emotional harm.

So serious question: Do you agree or disagree that posting these pictures can cause real harm to the girls in them?

Do you think Chuck Norris was somehow perpetrating some kind of injustice by making my friend take down the shirt?

The second problem is with the idea that using copyright law to take down these pictures would somehow be some kind of weird intrusion into the way the internet works. The problem here is that your artificially restricting your analysis to images. If you look at audio or video works, there is a ton of enforcement. So it wouldn't be unusual or new.

Finally, I'm not really arguing about whether or not reddit should shut down /r/jailbait. I'm only thinking about whether or not what reddit is doing is ethical and/or deserves condemnation. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism -- that's Sarah Palin's view, not reality.

If reddit had a pure free speech approach, you can say and link to whatever you want in subreddits you create (after Reddit doesn't host anything, so it could argue that it's not liable) then they would have a better (ethical) defense. Since they don't, they, well, don't.
posted by delmoi at 7:01 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


No it's not. It's a selective opinion about where copyright is good and where it's not. I'm not doing any enforcement.

What. The. Fuck?

I mean, do you think Chuck Norris was somehow oppressing my friend by not letting him sell shirts while other sites did?

If he did that after banging a loud drum about how evil copyright law is, it definitely qualifies as a dick move. Otherwise, it just means he was too lazy to take action unless annoyed, which is human nature.

But copyright law does not exist to address your hurt feelings. Norris could rightly claim that he was not getting paid royalties he was owed. There was money involved. If you have not registered a work with the copyright office all you can sue for is actual damages. What are the actual monetary damages due to someone whose picture is posted on a net forum?

Do you agree or disagree that posting these pictures can cause real harm to the girls in them?

Of course it can. So what?

It's not child pornography, and if it is a copyright violation the potential damages are trivial. So there's nothing anybody can do about it except Reddit. If you don't think that's right, lobby for the kind of law that you think would solve the problem and see if it's subject to abuse or just plain unconstitutional.

Your argument re: Reddit seems to be that they can't possibly be taking a principled stand because they have removed other subreddits. However, the two examples given both had the potential to disrupt Reddit's operation, which is a valid reason to bend your principles. Hosting /r/jailbait creates no such threat, and so they follow their principles and let it stand.

I understand exactly why Reddit is taking the stand they are, and I suspect you do too but you just don't like it.
posted by localroger at 7:42 AM on October 4, 2011


But copyright law does not exist to address your hurt feelings.

It exists to do whatever rightsholders want, including addressing their hurt feelings.
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on October 4, 2011


Do you agree or disagree that posting these pictures can cause real harm to the girls in them?

Of course it can. So what?


Rights of people to be jerks trump the rights of young girls not to be harmed. Got it.

Or not.
posted by waraw at 10:17 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rights of people to be jerks trump the rights of young girls not to be harmed. Got it.

My edit: "Rights of people to be jerks trump the potential, so far unsubstantiated danger for young girls to be harmed."

Demonstrate the harm to Reddit. I'm not so sure there's much of an argument there, however.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:42 AM on October 4, 2011


"Rights of people to be jerks trump the potential, so far unsubstantiated danger for young girls to be harmed."

Unsubstantiated? Really?
posted by delmoi at 12:23 PM on October 4, 2011


Oh also...
If you don't think that's right, lobby for the kind of law that you think would solve the problem and see if it's subject to abuse or just plain unconstitutional.
As I said earlier, currently law is completely sufficient to handle this, you just need to put the kind of technology that already exists and is currently being used by big content producers in the hands of the average person. That's it. If that happens, the problem will go away and only people who want their pictures on /r/jailbait will have them there.

Oh, and reddit has a whole subreddit dedicated to showing pics of the girl linked above, created by the same guy who made /j/jailbait.
posted by delmoi at 12:27 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rights of people to be jerks trump the rights of young girls not to be harmed. Got it.

Yeah, actually, they do. The idea that people have a right "not to be harmed" is pretty damn iffy (and completely impossible to enforce, much less fairly); the idea that people have a right to be jerks is Constitutionally protected.

Besides, there are an awful lot of people who encounter "real emotional harm" on the internet. Were Tron Guy and the Star Wars Kid also entitled to stop people from making fun of them? Are the People of Walmart entitled to class-action damages? Or does this only apply to the "prurient interest", and only in cases where the problem is age? If so, how's it different from plain ol' puritanism, and how can we keep it from being used in cases where the problem is gender or kink or just plain sex? This is nothing more than a series of transparently obvious attempts to justify enforcing one's own personal moral choices on other people, and I don't support that no matter the subject.

Anyone who thinks that "the kind of technology that already exists and is currently being used by big content producers" will be used by "the average person" more often than "the average Moral Majority type group" is kidding themselves. Besides, it's trivially easy to overcome and/or circumvent this technology if you really want to... which means that real child porn as well as the photos on /r/jailbait will continue to proliferate, even as the rest of us have to jump through increasingly unjust and harmful hoops and/or suffer from false positives (false DMCA takedowns are already de rigueur as a way of censoring content on youtube and elsewhere). Besides, how can such a system be deployed (much less enforced) web-wide? All you need to get around any of these automatic-detection systems is to host your videos and images on your own server, or another server which won't cooperate with DMCA takedowns... and frankly, if a web-wide system like this actually worked it would probably be enough to trigger the development of grey and black networks which would have zero legal oversight. Tor would only be the beginning.

I don't think things like this are positive in any way, shape, or form. Copyright owners cannot be allowed to win this war, not if free speech is to mean anything at all... and if that means risking emotional harm to myself or others, so be it.
posted by vorfeed at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Star Wars Kid also entitled to stop people from making fun of them?
You know Canadian courts ruled in his favor, right? The kids who uploaded the video had to pay damages, I think. (actually, wikipedia says there was a settlement, I do remember a statement from a judge agreeing with the plantifs though. And there's no first amendment in Canada anyway). But obviously after it got out, it would have been impossible for the kid take down all the videos once it got out there.

But from a legal standpoint, they didn't have the right to distribute the video.

Tron guy put his pictures up on the internet himself, Presumably he could have sued people if he wanted too, but is there any indication that he did?
Are the People of Walmart entitled to class-action damages?
I'm not sure, but I don't see why you think it's so clear cut. I think it depends on whether or not wallmart is a "public space". But there's also the issue of using pictures of people on a commercial website. From what I quoted on Wikipedia
The consensus on Commons (subject to any local law to the contrary) is that the subject's consent is not usually needed for a straightforward photograph of an identifiable individual taken in a public place, but is usually needed for such a photograph taken in a private place. When required, evidence of consent would usually consist of an affirmation from the uploader of the media. This may be accomplished using the {{consent}} template.

That said, a key word is "identifiable individual". If you look at The People of Wallmart all of the pictures are of people from behind or with their faces cropped out -- not identifiable. That's not how it works /r/jailbait.

So basically your examples show the exact opposite of what you think they do.
Anyone who thinks that "the kind of technology that already exists and is currently being used by big content producers" will be used by "the average person" more often than "the average Moral Majority type group" is kidding themselves. Besides, it's trivially yt easy yt to overcome and/or circumvent this technology if you really want to...
I'm all for p2p networking, but that's beside the point. In fact I'm not actually advocating that such a system be setup but rather I'm using it to illustrate a hypothetical point, which that posting pictures of underage girls (or anyone else) without their permission is already illegal, in a civil sense. Taking their pictures down is something that could be done without any new laws, just new technology.

Here's one example: You know Trollface right? And you you're probably aware of reddit's ragecomic subreddit and you would think they'd use trollface a lot, right? Well, it turns out the person who created trollface asked reddit not to use it. Apparently because he just didn't think the jokes were funny (they're not)

So, if a popular internet meme like trollface can be taken off reddit, for a totally arbitrary reason obviously individual pictures of teen girls can be taken off as well.

---

I'm having trouble understanding exactly what your argument is. It seems to be "This is OK because it's not illegal in the way people might expect, even though it's not technically legal because it violates copyright but that doesn't count because copyright isn't typically enforced that way" The problem is that that doesn't really make any sense.

It's easy to come up with an emotional reason why it's wrong. And in this case the law says the same thing -- If you own the copyright to something, you get to decide how it's displayed.

You can't do anything about p2p, but for centrally controlled sites like reddit or imgur, it wouldn't be any more difficult then taking down trollface.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on October 4, 2011


So basically your examples show the exact opposite of what you think they do.

...in Canada. Where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms places explicit limits on speech (or, as you put it: "there's no first amendment in Canada anyway"). Personally, I think that shows exactly what I think it does.

If you look at The People of Wallmart all of the pictures are of people from behind or with their faces cropped out -- not identifiable.

Um, no, they're not. Many of the top-rated photos on People of Walmart show faces, tattoos, and/or other identifying marks. And many of the photos on /r/jailbait are cropped or otherwise not identifiable.

So, if a popular internet meme like trollface can be taken off reddit, for a totally arbitrary reason obviously individual pictures of teen girls can be taken off as well.

Yes, they can, but again, that doesn't mean they have to. I wouldn't be surprised if Reddit would remove a given /r/jailbait photo, if they were approached in the manner of that Trollface letter... but removing a given photo is not enough to stop the horrible menace of /r/jailbait, now is it? You're not just suggesting that individuals "get to decide how their photos are displayed", because they can already do that -- you're suggesting that an automated system be built specifically to stop a given group of people from using any photo of any young woman in one particular manner you don't approve of, even as other people are allowed to infringe upon the exact same photos in the exact same ways as long as the word "jailbait" isn't on the page. That's crap, pure and simple.

I'm having trouble understanding exactly what your argument is.

My argument is that copyright law in its current form is harmful, selective enforcement of copyright law is even more harmful, and supporting widespread, selective enforcement of copyright law based on moral panic is so harmful that it is reprehensible. Hope that's exact enough for you.
posted by vorfeed at 3:39 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: Trollface is all over that subreddit, anyway.
posted by vorfeed at 3:52 PM on October 4, 2011


me: But copyright law does not exist to address your hurt feelings.

delmoi: It exists to do whatever rightsholders want, including addressing their hurt feelings.

NO IT DOESN'T. Copyrights exist to encourage the creation of works by making sure the creators get rewarded for their use. That is the ONLY reason they exist.

This isn't Canada, where there is no First Amendment, and it isn't Britain where you can in fact use copyright to take your work off the marketplace. In the US, while your work is automatically copyrighted at the moment of creation, if you don't register it all you can ever sue for is actual damages, which are generally strictly limited to lost income due to sales you lost the opportunity to make yourself. How many of those images on /r/jailbait do you think are registered? Right.

Things are a bit more open if you have registered, in some ways obscenely so, but there's a second problem: In order to bring a copyright action you have to be the holder of the copyright. This is what torpedoes your nifty facial recognition system because, again, unless the girls have submitted the very images they want forgotten to some central repository so they can be matched up, it's very unlikely that you could find the proper person who has the authority to file suit -- and then they would have to overcome thieir embarrassment and personally go to court and file the claim. You can't do it for them. This is what got copyright troll Righthaven taken down.

vorfeed is almost certainly right in that if Reddit received a proper takedown request from the actual copyright owner, they would honor it. For that photograph. Neither you nor the government have standing to issue such a request though, even if your nifty facial recognition system linked up every pic to its rightful owner. The rightful owners would have to come forward. This is the main reason why copyright is not an answer to the perceived "problem" of the emotionally damaging subreddit.

The whole point of the First Amendment is that your right to publish does not hinge on whether X person, group, or governmental body thinks it is "OK." You have the right to publish things that aren't OK, period. If you don't have that right, then you don't have freedom because one person's OK is another person's squick, and the Founders decided that God hadn't pointed out who could be trusted to make those decisions.

There are exceptions, and for the most part they are by design weighted very heavily on the side of free speech. If you're famous (or any of a long list of other things, like a child prodigy, who might be of public interest) people can pretty much say damn near anything about you, follow you around with cameras, and so on and there's bupkis you can do about it. That is not an accident.

If you are not a public person the barriers are lower and the real tools for preserving your feelings, slander and libel, offer a bit more protection; but you can become a public person quite by accident (as Amanda Knox is about to find out) and then you're pretty much screwed. And that's well established in case law.

The Founders were well aware of the power of propaganda and negative portrayals when they set all this up; the propaganda leaflets published in the early Colonies were savage. They made a deliberate, careful decision that you do not have a legal right to have your feelings protected. If you would like to live in a nation that feels otherwise, I understand Britain is tilting pretty far in that direction. There the libel laws are so powerful that they protect you even if your tormentor is telling the truth about you, unlike the US where truth is pretty much an absolute defense against slander and libel charges. Cool, eh? Just don't go over there and criticize anyone wealthy enough to sue you.
posted by localroger at 4:35 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have I ever said I thought reddit should be legally required to take /r/jailbait down? I don't really get why you keep saying it should be legal for them to have the subreddit.

My only point is that it's ethically/morally dubious to do it. If you're going to have totally free speech then that's one thing. If you're going to pick and choose then you are going to have some culpability for what you allow. If you're just going on what gets you "in trouble", and you think what they're doing is wrong then why not try to make trouble for them, perhaps by contacting their advertisers, which reddit needs to pay the bills.

Now here's the thing. Your initial argument was "It's OK because it's legal". The reason I brought up the copyright stuff was to point out that no it's not legal. The content detection system was just a hypothetical example of how the subreddit could be shut down (or at least had the rest of the other articles removed) without needing any new laws.

Now, if I understand your argument it seems to be:
1) It's legal to post pictures of sex, underage girls

2) Free speech means all legal speech is morally acceptable.

3) Therefore it's morally allowable to post pictures of underage girls in /r/jailbait
The problem is premise #1. It's only legal to post pictures of underage girls if you're the copyright holder. In other words, if you're the person who took the picture.

That flows through to #3: That it's morally allowable to post pictures of sexy underage girls without their permission is not a supported conclusion. Now maybe you could refine that a little to say that there are some laws that you can use to determine whether or not something is ethical, and other laws that shouldn't factor into it, and that copyright law is in the second group or something -- but it's not really clear.

Now my argument is not about what is or is not legal, but rather about what is or is not ethically wrong and/or gross.
1) It hurts the feelings of innocent teenage girls if you take their pictures and put them in a context like /r/jailbait without their permission. (See the Angie Verona interview for empirical evidence this is true.)

2) It's wrong to hurt innocent people solely for your own sexual gratification.

3) Therefore, it's wrong to post pictures like those in /r/jailbait without permission
Now, do you have some specific disagreement with one of my premises here?

The rest of what you're saying, I don't get how it really applies to these premises.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


1) It's legal to post pictures of sex, underage girls

My understanding is that the pictures in /r/jailbait are almost all clothed or shielded. If they were nude, Reddit would have to provide documentation as to their age and consent. That is all very well codified.

I don't think /r/reddit is OK. But in the US it doesn't have to be OK. There are consequences involved when you create a work of art, whether it's a seminude picture of yourself, a song, or a movie.

In the furor which erupted after the initial release of A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick decided to pick up his toys and go home. In Britain this meant that the movie was pulled from the market; in Britain, a content creator has that power. So for thirty years if you were a British citizen the only way you could see A Clockwork Orange was to bring in a copy from some other country.

And the reason you could do that is that, in other countries including the US, the distributors told Stanley to pound sand, here's your royalty and it's in our catalog. Because in the US copyright (as originally conceived at least) was about encouraging publication. Recent abuses by the RIAA notwithstanding, that is its fundamental structure.

Another example, which is even more instructive, is the matter of Rush Limbaugh's radio show theme, which is a looped clip from Chrissie Hynde's My City was Gone. One day el Rushbo made a snide comment about how cool it was that he was ripping off a liberal vegetarian PETA member and Hynde got a bit bent out of shape. Rush had her though; like the movie distributors, ASCAP says if he pays the fee, he gets to play the song. Once it's out there you can't stop people from playing it, you can only make sure you get your royalty.

But there was a catch! Since el Rushbo only plays a few bars looped, that isn't really the original song; it's a derivative work and it turns out US copryight law does give you creative control of derivative works created from your original. So Hynde shot back, OK, if you want to play it you have to play the whole song. The lawyers confabbed, and decided she was right, and that is how in order to keep playing his signature loop Rush Limbaugh became PETA's biggest contributor.

So the point vorfeed and I are trying to get through to you is that it doesn't matter if your feelings are hurt, how you feel, or what you want done with a work you have created. Madonna could try to buy back the nude pics she posed for when she was a starving ingenue but she couldn't stop them from being published just because they were of her. Actions have consequences.

It may not be "OK" for some ethical value of "OK" for /r/reddit to exist, but it is OK by every practical enforcement standard that exists, just as it's OK for racist, homophobic, religiously insane, pro-illegal-drug, anti-vaccination, and whatever other fuckery people might want to publish. That brings us back to the only question that really matters, which is why does Reddit allow the subreddit to stand?

And I think that's very simple; it's on the correct side of a very bright line Reddit has drawn in the sand, which is that it does not take anything down unless legally or operationally it threatens the operation of Reddit itself. The Paladin / Hit Man case and the kiddie porn hysteria mean that First Amendment publishers have to be a bit more circumspect than they did in the past, but Reddit is sailing in well charted waters.
posted by localroger at 5:38 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rush had her though; like the movie distributors, ASCAP says if he pays the fee, he gets to play the song. Once it's out there you can't stop people from playing it, you can only make sure you get your royalty.
Interestingly, there are actually special rules governing (actual) radio broadcasts. You don't need a license, legally you can broadcast any song (or 'selection') of a recording so long as you pay a fixed licensing fee. Fair use comes into play if he's just using a small sample, but if you had an internet radio show instead of a broadcast one then the copyright owner would be able to exert more control.
Madonna could try to buy back the nude pics she posed for when she was a starving ingenue but she couldn't stop them from being published just because they were of her.
In those cases she probably signed a model release, In /r/jailbait, not so much.

In any event I don't really think it's true that the law doesn't care about your feelings. If you're doing something that's legal, then it's not an issue. However, if you doing a tort already, the court may take emotional harm into consideration
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on October 5, 2011


However, if you doing a tort already, the court may take emotional harm into consideration

If you have not registered the work with the copyright office you can only sue for actual damages. This fact and the way those damages are estimated are very well established, and I promise you they do not include emotional harm. In the incredibly unlikely event that Reddit would ignore a properly documented takedown request for an individual image, it's hard to imagine how the potential damages could be more than a few dollars and a court ordered takedown.
posted by localroger at 12:32 PM on October 5, 2011


Related: Facebook is fine with hate speech, as long as it's directed at women: "The social network's 'jokes in the pub' analogy, defending its decision not to take down pro-rape pages, is offensive"
posted by mrgrimm at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2011


What mrgrimm was probably trying to link
posted by localroger at 3:44 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


r/ Jailbait has been shut down
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:52 PM on October 10, 2011


Well...good for them.
posted by cashman at 7:08 PM on October 10, 2011


But, as violentacrez points out here, there is still plenty of JB on smaller subreddits that still exist.
posted by waraw at 11:01 AM on October 11, 2011


This story is just getting more interesting, not less.
posted by jessamyn at 11:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, WAIT. WAIT! The internet interpreted censorship as damage and routed around it? Who the heck saw that coming?

It'll be interesting to see what happens at Reddit. Some heavy moderation is going to be required to change the community and it's unlikely the will exists to make the effort to make that change.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM on October 11, 2011


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