Reddit puts Russia subreddit under quarantine for misinformation

1 Mar 2022

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The r/Russia community on Reddit currently ‘contains a high volume of information not supported by credible sources’.

As Ukraine suffers its sixth day of a full-scale Russian invasion, social news aggregation and discussion site Reddit has put the r/Russia subreddit under ‘quarantine’ for spreading misinformation.

Reddit has a quarantine policy for any community that is found to be “highly offensive or upsetting” or “promoting hoaxes”. While it does not ban the subreddit altogether, a quarantined community does not show up in searches, recommendations and general Reddit feeds.

Future Human

Users trying to enter the subreddit are also asked if they are sure they want to enter the community, in the same way social media platforms flag potentially distressing posts, images and videos.

When trying to enter the r/Russia subreddit, users are currently shown a message that says the community “contains a high volume of information not supported by credible sources”. Users are then asked if they are certain they want to continue to the page.

A screen that reads "Are you sure you want to view this community?" followed by the options "No Thank You" and "Continue".

Message that appears when trying to access r/Russia on Reddit. Screenshot: Reddit

The r/Russia subreddit claims to be a community for “everything related to the country of Russia”. It is known to be a space for discussion around Russian national and international politics, with a strong conservative and nationalistic voice.

According to Mashable, which first reported on this story, the community of more than 265,000 subscribers as of yesterday (28 February) has featured top posts in recent days that try to justify and defend the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began last week.

Some of these posts have accused Ukrainians of spreading propaganda and misinformation online, referred to Ukrainian soldiers as Nazis and called for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be tried as a war criminal.

In the past, a notable instance of a community being put under quarantine was when the r/The_Donald subreddit was quarantined in June 2019 for inciting violence, after years of calls from Reddit users critical of the community to ban it.

“We are clear in our policies that moderators and users may not attempt to manipulate and interfere with the conversations or communities on our platform,” a Reddit spokesperson told Mashable.

As well as r/Russia, the r/RussiaPolitics subreddit has also been put under quarantine and a moderator of one of the communities had been removed “for acting in bad faith”.

“We have connected directly with the remaining moderators to provide guidance and remind them of our policies. We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as needed,” the spokesperson added.

The global tech community has been increasing measures to crack down on misinformation about the conflict. Yesterday, Twitter said it would start flagging all tweets that link to Russian state-backed media sources, while other platforms have been restricting access to RT and Sputnik.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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