DOJ Issues Subpoena to Identify Anonymous Blog Commenters
June 10, 2015 8:53 AM   Subscribe

The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has issued a subpoena to Reason magazine, in order to identify anonymous commenters mouthing off about a federal judge. Ken White at Popehat broke the story. posted by suelac (71 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the WaPo coverage:
For reasons White explains, the comments almost certainly do not qualify as “true threats” against the judge. They are, rather, the kind of nasty and stupid vitriol that is all too common in anonymous comments on the internet. For example, one of the commenters wrote that “judges like these… should be taken out back and shot,” another opined that “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman,” and a third replied that “I’d prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.”

Nasty stuff, indeed. To put it mildly, comments such as these are hardly valuable contributions to public discourse. But if federal prosecutors investigated every similar anonymous comment on the internet, we could probably devote the entire federal budget to hunting down these types of blogosphere trolls, and still not find them all.
US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York: trying to make the internet a cleaner, happier place, one forum at a time.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think arguably the most insane thing about all this is that the Popehat person describes Reason magazine as having "clever writing" and "excellent content."
posted by jnnla at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


we could probably devote the entire federal budget to hunting down these types of blogosphere trolls, and still not find them all

We're putting a great deal of it to worse uses now. I mean if we're not going to rebuild our highways, fix the schools, and get people decent health care, etc. etc. anyway, there are considerably more damaging ways to waste it than this.
posted by Naberius at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, some of those aren't real threats. On the other hand, we definitely definitely need to start taking online threats and harassment more seriously. If law enforcement actually took such things seriously, their prevalence would be reduced. We don't actually need the whole federal budget to do it.

Don't think about telling a judge to go to hell, think about crap like gamergate.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn can't get the law to give a shit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [89 favorites]


Well, but nobody important cares about Gamergate. Why do you think this is what got the nuclear response?

Because this directly annoyed people with power and the means to use it to squash those who annoyed them. This is the white version of cop shootings. The targets are (almost certainly) white, the collars of the annoyed are white, and so the tools are legal briefs rather than bullets, but it's the same idea.
posted by Naberius at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's no sign that this is going to lead to actually shutting down real harassments and threats though, just to harass people venting their frustrations about the government.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've had more specific threats against me from government employees when I worked as a contractor.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn can't get the law to give a shit.

Exactly. I'm wondering if their experiences set any sort of precedent? I'm guessing not, since it seems like most of their push back happened at their local police level.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:13 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, but nobody important cares about Gamergate. Why do you think this is what got the nuclear response?

Because the target of the threats was a man?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2015


The target of the threats was a woman.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


The judge, Katherine Forrest, is a woman.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ohhhhh!

Never mind....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, but nobody important cares about Gamergate. Why do you think this is what got the nuclear response?

The judge, Katherine Forrest, is a woman.

Interestingly, the usual bigoted shitbags doxxed Judge Forrest four months ago, which is arguably a more serious crime. I honestly wonder what the difference was here. The average Reason commenter is probably less of a bigoted shitbag who is also willing to actively engage in harassment (although given the language they use, there's doubtlessly some overlap).
posted by zombieflanders at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


8chan: making 4chan look reasonable.
posted by maryr at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]




I honestly wonder what the difference was here.

Probably it was done because Reason magazine is a much easier target to subpoena than 8-Chan or Redditt.
posted by happyroach at 9:31 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are legitimate reasons to give threats to officials like federal judges more scrutiny than your standard threat, and not because the plebs don't matter.

By virtue of their positions they are targets for violence, both political and personal, in a way an average person isn't. Assassinations and political killings do happen, and in the case of judges attacks by angry plaintiffs or criminals do too. There's a reason threats against the President are taken so seriously, and while this judge isn't nearly as high profile there's good reason to take threats against her seriously too.

That's not to say I think this particular case is in the right, I just don't like the characterization of some posters here of the government's reaction being all down to this woman being better than us.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


On the one hand, some of those aren't real threats.
No. NONE of them are real threats or even come close to being real threats. Sorry.

No reasonable person would interpret any of those as representing an actual intention to hurt anybody, nor as trying to make anybody think there was an actual intention to hurt them.

And I doubt there was even an unreasonable person who actually had such a belief. This shows every sign of being more about trying to set a line way, way short of actually threatening anybody... by using the threat of official attention.

Not only that, but the "threats" weren't even directed to the "target".

Not even close to the Gamergate stuff, where there was plent of reason to believe that somebody might do something physical in real life, and the threats were presented directly to the targets over a long period as part of an active campaign intended to harrass and intimidate.
posted by Hizonner at 9:35 AM on June 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


8chan: making 4chan look reasonable.

Well, yeah, they're twice as chan. It's right there in the name. I only wonder if web forums that are reasonable and civil can only achieve very low chan, so they might appear as 1/128chan, or if you can actually achieve negative chan, and so -256chan.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:37 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't think that the witch hunt is reasonable but writing out violent and deadly wishes for a federal judge on a public forum is beyond stupid.
posted by tunewell at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a real honest reason for threats against a government official being treated differently. Threats against a government official are implicitly (and often explicitly) attempts to change government policy or law outside of the political process.

When you threaten a judge, you're doing two wrong things. One, you are threatening a human being, and two, you are subverting the legal process by attempting to influence that judge's decision by the threat of violence.

Thus, the laws in place that threats against federal officials, esp. judges and seniors executives like the President. And they are taken *very* seriously and will always be investigated.

Note: I am not defending the lack of protection that Brianna Wu and Zöe Quinn receive. That's not cool. But I have no problem with the courts using the tools they have to investigate what they perceive is an attempt to influence a court by threats of violence. Many of these investigations happen, most result in no sanctions.
posted by eriko at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


Don't think about telling a judge to go to hell, think about crap like gamer gate.

But this is a case about telling a judge to go to hell. Popehat didn't argue that because they were posted online, they weren't real threats. In fact, he gave an example of something that was posted online but, unlike these comments, was a real threat.
posted by layceepee at 10:01 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a real honest reason for threats against a government official being treated differently.
Irrelevant. There are no actual threats in evidence, against a government official or anybody else.
Many of these investigations happen, most result in no sanctions.
A visit from the FBI can be, and often is, conducted in such a way as to be a "sanction" in itself, even if nobody is ever charged, let alone convicted of anything.

... and even if an investigation is legitimate (which this one probably is not unless there's information not in evidence), that doesn't mean that a grand jury subpoena is a tool that should be available for every investigation.
posted by Hizonner at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I only wonder if web forums that are reasonable and civil can only achieve very low chan

I wonder what a chan level over nine thousand looks like.

Wait, no ... I think I'd rather not know.
posted by theorique at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Irrelevant. There are no actual threats in evidence, against a government official or anybody else.

It's not irrelevant. It isn't being argued that because there *are* real threats against government officials that there is any actual threat here. It's simply arguing that there is a rationale behind taking threats against government officials more strongly than just plain threats.
posted by Dalby at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's worth noting that when normal citizens actually receive 'true threats' (as outlined in the article.... E.G.: Doxxing along with explicate threats) they still don't receive protection under the law... See abortion providers for example.

Also, this seems a bit different than the harassment in gamergate... These people were commenting on a news site: they were not directly contacting the judge, nor using twitter (ie: directing their comments at the judge).

I would personally find it hard to believe that these comments, if directed against the president, would trigger the Secret Service into action. I've seen much more vile things said about him on the internet (with no apparent secret service visits).

I would also imagine that if you trolled the comments of white supremacist boards, you'd find more explicate threats against leaders of police anti-violence movements.

So where does that leave us? Abortion providers don't get this level of protection, Gamergate victims don't receive this level of protection, civil rights leaders don't receive this level of protection, and the president doesn't receive this level of protection.

Many/most of the folks in the above list are engaged in the political process, and threats (often more explicate) can and do have a chilling effect on their speech/actions; such threats are intended to influence the political process through threats of violence.

So, the question is, should judges have an extraordinary level of protection against vague not 'true threats' (as defined by the courts)? I don't think so.

Also, if this is considered a true threat, then what the living fuck: "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman."
posted by el io at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


unless there's information not in evidence

From the dates (the Reason comments were made on May 31 and June 1 and the subpoena is dated June 2) I get the feeling that there was already an investigation in progress into some nut-bar who threatened the judge and law enforcement is casting a wide net. In the link I posted above, somebody published her SSN and home address last year and wrote something that is much closer to a real threat than the Reason comments.
posted by peeedro at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


(please let it be Brownback... please let it be Brownback...)
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Was going to say what peeedro did. I'd be genuinely shocked if the DOJ were so disturbed by these comments alone that they started issuing subpoenas. Not saying it's not possible, but I'd be extremely surprised.
posted by holborne at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Government issued a subpoena against anonymous commenters at Reason Magazine? This must be a fantasy come true for them, a gift that validates their entire conspiratorial world-view. The only way they could be happier is if Barack Obama visited their office wearing a nanny outfit.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


There could be cases where there is a legitimate reason to identify the writers of documents. An internet post can be such a document.

Future serial killers are not going to write in cut out letters to the newspaper. They will be using hushmail.

More importantly, there are few communications immune from subpoena and that's a good thing. Doctor-patient, attorney-client, priest-penitent and communications between spouses come to mind. The subpoena is only issued if a judge thinks it is needed.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 AM on June 10, 2015


Future serial killers are not going to write in cut out letters to the newspaper. They will be using hushmail.

So the Millennials are lazy.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:52 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Irrelevant. There are no actual threats in evidence, against a government official or anybody else.

There are no facts in evidence yet. Because there hasn't been a trial. This is important because the purpose of a subpoena is to get facts that you can put into evidence at the trial.

Also from one story you have zero idea what facts the government has. None. I bet this is a three-inch thick file by now. You think that you know a case from a newspaper story? You know nothing of it.

Case in point. My dad, also a lawyer, was on extended sick leave during the O.J. trial. All the news organizations treated it like it was a done deal. My dad was stuck at home, watching the trial. He watched it every day. He called me multiple times saying that O.J. was going to be acquitted. I trusted him and he was right.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Future serial killers are not going to write in cut out letters to the newspaper. They will be using hushmail.

Only if they are fools. Hushmail will cooperate with US law enforcement.
posted by el io at 10:58 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


peedro:
From the dates (the Reason comments were made on May 31 and June 1 and the subpoena is dated June 2) I get the feeling that there was already an investigation in progress into some nut-bar who threatened the judge and law enforcement is casting a wide net. In the link I posted above, somebody published her SSN and home address last year and wrote something that is much closer to a real threat than the Reason comments.
And Ironmouth:
I bet this is a three-inch thick file by now.
These are good points. They may be grabbing this stuff as part of investigating something else. Still out of line unless they have something else tying these comments to that other something. But it's possible they do. It would be have to be tenuous, because, until they get the information they're asking for, all they have on these things is nicknames, posting times, and maybe stylometry. If there's some deranged "true threatener" out there, it seems kind of odd that those thin sorts of connections would actually justify tying in ALL of those comments.

But, Ironmouth? "In evidence" has a meaning in normal conversation between non-lawyers, and it has nothing to do with trials.
posted by Hizonner at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2015


I think everyone agrees that—regardless of whether judges should be especially protected against real threats, or whether real threats by Gamergaters are not being addressed enough—these comments were not real threats.

But "casting a wide net" and subpoenaing them anyway is not the only abuse of power here. The attorney who issued the subpoena also tried to prevent it from becoming public knowledge:
On Friday, June 5th, the day after a source sent me the subpoena, I decided to call Niketh Velamoor, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who issued the subpoena. My purpose was to tell him that I would not print the subpoena if he could convince me that he had specific evidence demonstrating that to do so would put a life in danger. Mr. Velamoor — who said he could not discuss grand jury investigations, which is the standard AUSA statement — said that it was unreasonable to expect the government to be able to prove such a threat before it identified the commenters. That answered my question on the point.

Mr. Velamoor was suspicious and defensive. At one point he told me that he "believed" that there was a gag order prohibiting this subpoena from being released by its recipients, and that whoever gave it to me must have violated that order, and that he would be "looking into it" and how I got it.

Such gag orders do exist. However, I note that two days earlier on June 2, 2015, Mr. Velamoor signed the cover letter on the subpoena, which contained the Department of Justice's standard language about secrecy:
The Government hereby requests that you voluntarily refrain from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party. While you are under no obligation to comply with our request, we are requesting you not to make any disclosure in order to preserve the confidentiality of the investigation and because disclosure of the existence of this investigation might interfere with and impede the investigation.
In other words, two days before he told me that he believed there was a gag order on the subpoena, Mr. Velamoor told Reason.com that it was not required to keep the subpoena secret.

Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misspoke. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misremembered. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor didn't secure the gag order until after he issued the subpoena.

Or perhaps Mr. Velamoor, bless his heart, was lying in an attempt to intimidate me.
This subpoena is not the first step toward getting real threats against people like Zoe Quinn addressed. It's the first step toward letting the government intimidate people into silence whom they don't like.
posted by Rangi at 11:15 AM on June 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


No reasonable person would interpret any of those as representing an actual intention to hurt anybody, nor as trying to make anybody think there was an actual intention to hurt them.

It is not remotely clear to me where the line is between venting on a public forum and, "Will no one doxx me this turbulent judge?" If the government is investigating an actual case of an anonymous person directly harassing the judge, it doesn't seem like a huge overreach to at least investigate the people making these kinds of comments.
posted by straight at 11:18 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, doesn't the Elonis vs. US judgement smash this whole subpoena thing to pieces?

No. Elonis is about the intent requirement for a criminal conviction. It has nothing to do with discovery.
posted by The Bellman at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The subpoena is only issued if a judge thinks it is needed.

IANAL, but I understand that for federal grand jury subpoenas the prosecutor takes it directly to a US Marshall who serves it -- no judge involved or probable cause threshold. Which is why it's such a blunt and intimidating instrument and prone to misuse (see: Richard Nixon).

I think judges should receive ample protection, but a federal prosecutor teaming up with an angry judge to play internet detective seems a fairly ham-handed way to go about the business of bodyguarding.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2015


There are no facts in evidence yet. Because there hasn't been a trial. This is important because the purpose of a subpoena is to get facts that you can put into evidence at the trial.

Subpoenas in your country are not in fact intended to be fishing expeditions, even when sought from a grand jury:

While grand juries are sometimes described as performing accusatory and investigatory functions, the grand jury's principal function is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that one or more persons committed a certain Federal offense within the venue of the district court.

For an investigatory subpoena, the standard is probable cause to believe incriminating evidence will be obtained. Is it really reasonable to think that if the F.B.I. break down "Agammamon's" front door, they'll find a manifesto entitled "Why Judge Forrest needs killing – and I'm the one for the job"? Bear in mind that the possibility isn't enough – this or similarly strong evidence has to be more likely to be found than not. If not, the prosecutor was in error and the subpoena should not have been granted ('should' being the operative word).
posted by topynate at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, doesn't the Elonis vs. US judgement smash this whole subpoena thing to pieces?

Ugh, speaking of that, that's got to be one of the dumbest decisions in a long time. The stuff he posted online is like 100x worse than the Reason comments and is VERY CLEARLY directed against his wife, and is VERY CLEARLY intended as threatening. Total travesty. Why the ACLU supported him I have no idea, but every time I think of adding them to my charities list, something like this reminds me not to.
posted by freecellwizard at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the government is investigating an actual case of an anonymous person directly harassing the judge, it doesn't seem like a huge overreach to at least investigate the people making these kinds of comments.

So if one particular critic of a public figure is potentially dangerous this should open all other critics of this figure to suspicion and investigation?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:49 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was thinking more like, "If you're looking for a particular anonymous critic, it makes sense to look among the anonymous critics," but as topynate points out, actual subpoena power requires a much higher standard and doesn't (shouldn't) extend to that sort of fishing expedition.
posted by straight at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2015


No reasonable person would interpret any of those as representing an actual intention to hurt anybody, nor as trying to make anybody think there was an actual intention to hurt them.

Just like there is NOTHING wrong with yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater when most of the people can clearly see that there is no fire. It's just another prank.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


this is an outrageous, terrifying abuse of power but I have to admit the thought of these commenters shitting their pants is kinda funny.
posted by jayder at 3:06 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


the usual bigoted shitbags doxxed Judge Forrest four months ago

I'd love to see them try to handwave this away with their "she doxxed herself!" defense.
posted by ymgve at 3:12 PM on June 10, 2015


Ironmouth: "Future serial killers are not going to write in cut out letters to the newspaper. They will be using hushmail."

Forget Hushmail. Lavaboom (zero knowledge and not a US company) FTW!
posted by Samizdata at 3:27 PM on June 10, 2015


Harvey Kilobit: "The Government issued a subpoena against anonymous commenters at Reason Magazine? This must be a fantasy come true for them, a gift that validates their entire conspiratorial world-view. The only way they could be happier is if Barack Obama visited their office wearing a nanny outfit."

Or maybe a bisht/thobe/keffiyeh combo, along with a long freshly grown beard?
posted by Samizdata at 3:29 PM on June 10, 2015


The Government issued a subpoena against anonymous commenters at Reason Magazine? This must be a fantasy come true for them, a gift that validates their entire conspiratorial world-view. The only way they could be happier is if Barack Obama visited their office wearing a nanny outfit.

that's a really good point. I actually think that we don't admit/discuss enough how stuff that is outrageous on its face is often a real boon to the so-called victim, in the form of righteous indignation, attention, instant hero status, ammunition in whatever culture war they happen to be fighting, etc.
posted by jayder at 3:45 PM on June 10, 2015


It's not really a shock, on a few issues libertarians are more than stopped clocks. Government overreach is frequently one of them.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


No reasonable person would interpret any of those as representing an actual intention to hurt anybody.

You should realize that when you use the word "reasonable" in a conversation about readers of Reason magazine, you are actually using an auto-antonym -- like "cleave" or "sanction" -- and it may not be obvious to listener which sense you intend.
posted by JackFlash at 4:18 PM on June 10, 2015


It's easy to dismiss this sort of thing on the grounds that it's not a "real threat." Then I remember the crosshairs on Gabrielle Giffords.
posted by Zonker at 4:20 PM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yup, you make a good point Zonker.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2015


I think that one reason that the Feds take threats against judges particularly seriously is the 2005 murders of the husband and mother of Judge Joan Lefkow, although I don't think that it turned out that the murderer was actually inspired by the white supremacists who were issuing death threats against her.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


On a related note, Justin Carter has been awaiting trial since Feb 2013 -- I'm not even sure if anyone is covering the story anymore. Petition.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:25 PM on June 10, 2015


Probably it was done because Reason magazine is a much easier target to subpoena than 8-Chan or Redditt.

In other online harrasment news:
Reddit bans 'Fat People Hate' and other subreddits under new harassment rules
posted by Artw at 6:53 PM on June 10, 2015


... and they're proceeding to deface the rest of the site. (link to /r/all, NSF-anyone)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:34 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hoooly crap.
posted by topynate at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2015


The resulting traffic has overloaded Voat, top candidate site for the inevitable exodus from Reddit as Reddit was for Digg.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:00 PM on June 10, 2015


"We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas," reads the post. That means that some apparently more offensive subreddits have been left online. One of these is the intensely racist r/coontown, a fact several commenters brought up.

Ahh, Reddit. Never a move that might make you say, "You know, they might not be as bad as I think..." without the counterpoint.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:03 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Also, I find it somewhat amusing that none of that huge temper tantrum shows up on my own front page since you have to be subscribed to the hate subs to see them if you aren't browsing /all. Most Reddit users aren't even going to notice this happened.)
posted by Drinky Die at 2:33 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The reddit admins allowed this shit to fester and now the chickens have come home to roost.
posted by RedShrek at 3:46 AM on June 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


... and they're proceeding to deface the rest of the site. (link to /r/all, NSF-anyone)

"How dare they accuse of us harassment of women and abuse of rules! It makes me so mad that I'm going to harass Ellen Pao in direct contravention of Reddiquette, that'll show 'em!"

Oh, bigoted dumbasses of Reddit, you never fail to act exactly how you complain about being portrayed. They're also gilding the shit out of people slagging on the admins, which means their anger is literally keeping Reddit running. I find their lack of self-awareness...amusing.

The resulting traffic has overloaded Voat, top candidate site for the inevitable exodus from Reddit as Reddit was for Digg.

Good. There's not enough of them leaving to kill Reddit, and Voat is missing the resources to either handle the traffic or deal with the also-inevitable focus users will come under for organizing criminally harassing activity. There's still a long way to go at Reddit (the aforementioned /r/coontown and similar subs, creepshot/jailbait rule evaders, KiA, etc are all still thriving), but perhaps it'll become somewhere that you don't have to curate the shit out of your subs and/or stick to subs with high levels of moderation.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:18 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


T.C. Sottek: If this is the beginning of the end of Reddit, then Reddit deserves to die
The only sympathetic part of the outrageous response to today's bans is that expecting a small bureaucracy to manage such a massive community could lead to uneven or unfair results, especially if its definition of harassment is dubious. Part of that is Reddit's fault, because it's still afraid to go all the way and purge its most insidious cesspools of hate speech. The company says "we're banning behavior, not ideas:" a policy far too nuanced for angry trolls who mistakenly believe the First Amendment is essentially a license to, say, walk into someone's living room and mock them for being fat.

And really, that's what we're talking about here. A bunch of people who are mad that a private company (Reddit) isn't willing to tolerate vicious mockery and other toxic behavior in its living room. There is no grand censorship happening here, despite what these trolls want you (and each other) to believe. The reason the internet is so wild is that it's actually not like the town square. If you want to spew outrageously racist stuff, guess what, there are plenty of spaces online for you to express yourself. Ku Klux Klan message boards and 8chan will be happy to welcome you.

But if these people — the fat shamers, the white supremacists, the Gamergate zealots —constitute a critical mass of users who are capable of destroying Reddit by leaving it for another site, then what is Reddit's value beyond serving those keen for loathing and abuse? Who would be left to protect?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:27 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The most amusing part is all the instructions on how to adblock Reddit. This site is such a shitpile that I am not at all going to stop using it, here is how to oppose it anyway!
posted by Drinky Die at 4:28 AM on June 11, 2015


They're claiming that ShitRedditSays is a harassment subreddit too, which is kind of hilarious.
posted by maryr at 7:35 AM on June 11, 2015


They're claiming that ShitRedditSays is a harassment subreddit too, which is kind of hilarious.
POP QUIZ! What do the following 4 subreddits have in common?

/r/KotakuInAction ... /r/TheRedPill ... /r/conspiracy ... /r/MensRights

...

Stumped? Here's the answer!

All four of these subreddits are freaking the fuck out about the recent FPH ban and how they might be next and yet they have nothing to do with hating fat people!!! What does "gaming journalism" have to do with FPH? What does "sexual strategy" (ew) have to do with FPH? ..."Men's rights?"

LITERALLY.

NOTHING.

...... You know, except for the fact that all of these subreddits are all trolled by the same racist/misogynistic troglodytes who use covers such as "gaming journalism" and "seduction" and "men's rights" in order to say misogynistic bullshit. And now they're all scared that they can't get away with it.

Nobody on SRS is saying "are we next?" Nobody on /r/hockey is saying "are we next?" So why are they asking that? Because they know, deep down inside, they're pieces of shits.

The people on FPH and all the misogynstic subreddits aren't just similar in that they're all heinous assholes, they're literally the same heinous assholes posting across these subs. The same people who bully and harass women are also the same people who bully and harass the obese. Who would have guessed?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:14 AM on June 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Looks like they're gonna need a bigger voat.

11 hours later, it's still down.
posted by zarq at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


This morning, from Popehat: Media Coverage Of The Reason Debacle.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:38 AM on June 12, 2015


But, Ironmouth? "In evidence" has a meaning in normal conversation between non-lawyers, and it has nothing to do with trials.

my point is that this is in front of a grand jury. it is secret. there is no evidence because the grand jury operates in secret. so it very much matters that we let them do their jobs.

some folks here are thinking that we should have the right to know about every single case as it is going on. that's the worst thing that could happen.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:54 PM on June 12, 2015


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