Ireland subreddit to close at night to ‘stem the flow’ of racist content

9 Jun 2020887 Views

Image: © prima91/Stock.adobe.com

The moderators of the Ireland Reddit page said they will close the subreddit each night to ‘stem the flow’ of racist and abusive content being published.

Earlier this week, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addressed the issue of racism on the platform and acknowledged that moderators are struggling to keep up with racist and abusive content.

Now, moderators of the Ireland Reddit page have published an announcement stating that the group will temporarily be closing each night, from midnight to 8am.

The moderators of the subreddit, which is dedicated to conversations and news related to Ireland, said that the move is necessary to “stem the flow of racist and extremist content” being posted at night.

‘Sockpuppet accounts’

Voluntary moderators of the page, which has 280,000 members, said that there are “a multitude of sockpuppet accounts (typically posting in American hours), who will spam the subreddit with racist or hateful comments”.

According to the moderators, the users engaging in this behaviour have then been travelling to “unmoderated/hate-focused subreddits to hotlink to their content in order to claim sub-wide racism or brigade threads wherever possible”.

As a result of this behaviour, the moderation team behind the Ireland page have had to spend nights “constantly watching over every thread and comment submitted” to ensure that they can ban the accounts involved.

Support Silicon Republic

The moderators said they are seeking to expand their team “massively” in the coming weeks to deal with racism and abusive content. The team also claimed that Reddit’s paid administrative staff have taken “no action” beyond temporary bans.

“We’ve concluded that we are at a lost cause in attempting to continue cleaning up the hate-filled messes that the admin’s inaction has created and fostered over several years; particularly when they fall outside of the hours that our own [moderators] would be awake to deal with them,” the team wrote.

Reddit has ‘work to do’

The new restrictions put in place on the Ireland subreddit come after Huffman said that Reddit has “work to do” with its current content policy, which “does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism”.

“We will update our content policy to include a vision for Reddit and its communities to aspire to, a statement on hate, the context for the rules, and a principle that Reddit isn’t to be used as a weapon,” he wrote in a Reddit post earlier this week.

“The majority of our top communities have a rule banning hate and racism, which makes us proud and is evidence why a community-led approach is the only way to scale moderation online.”

Huffman made these statements after Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced that he was stepping down from the company’s board, while urging Reddit to replace him with a black candidate.

In his daily column for The Verge, reporter Casey Newton argued that “leaving content moderation to volunteers is empowering racists” by putting the user base at the mercy of a volunteer moderation team, without any regard to that group’s diversity, training or values.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com