Ireland Reddit page reopens after claims of moderator abuse

7 Sep 2020460 Views

Image: © MichaelJBerlin/Stock.adobe.com

The Ireland Reddit page has reopened after moderators temporarily closed it over claims the site was not doing enough to protect them from abuse.

Reddit’s dedicated Ireland page, which has more than 300,000 members, has reopened after a standoff between its volunteer moderators and administrators who are paid staff of the massive online message board.

As reported by The Times, the page was shut down after moderators claimed they were facing targeted online attacks – known as doxxing – for attempting to clamp down on an “onslaught of racially motivated content” and had been raising concerns with site administrators for more than two years.

Over the weekend, the moderators issued a statement that no more comments or posts could be made on the subreddit (message board page) until Reddit’s administrators could ensure “the most basic assurances on the personal safety and privacy” of moderators.

“When the mods on r/Ireland were faced with an onslaught of racially motivated brigading coupled with personal targeting/threats towards mods, we reached out to the admins and tried to tackle this proactively by recruiting more moderators to stem the flow,” they said.

Brigading is a targeted effort to manipulate or radically alter large online communities such as subreddits.

‘Realistic long-term solutions’

Support Silicon Republic

However, the moderators have issued another statement today (7 September) saying that following discussions with administrators, the Ireland subreddit was reopened for posting and commenting.

“We’re moving forward in assuming the admins are working in the best possible faith to eliminate areas of Reddit which are set up explicitly for these purposes,” they said in their latest statement, adding that they “hope to see realistic long-term solutions put in place to prevent against situations like this in the future”.

The moderators also confirmed that one moderator had issued an “egregious response” to harassment from accounts with fake identities, referred to as sockpuppet accounts, and is being investigated. Siliconrepublic.com has reached out to Reddit for comment.

In June, the Ireland subreddit moderators announced they would close the page every night in order to “stem the flow of racist and extremist content” being posted. They said there was “a multitude of sockpuppet accounts (typically posting in American hours), who will spam the subreddit with racist or hateful comments”.

While 24-hour posting has returned, the moderators at the time said they were “constantly watching over every thread and comment submitted” to ensure the banning of these accounts.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com