Because one guy talked about ‘shrooms, Reddit is now banned in Russia (updated)

13 Aug 2015

Panaeolus subbalteatus mushroom image via Wikimedia Commons

One Russian Reddit user has found himself on the end of a powerful enemy — the Russian state, with his post discussing the growing of psilocybe mushrooms leading to the forum being banned completely in the country.

The banning of Reddit in Russia came following a decision by Russia’s censorship board – Roskomnadzor – to add the ‘front page of the internet’ to the list of banned sites for the user rsocfan’s post.

In the post submitted to the rudrugs subreddit, he had been describing the process of growing the mushrooms for his use, which seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the country’s drug control agency.

According to the BBC, the drug agency then contacted Roskomnadzor, which wielded its ban hammer down on Reddit.

Posting an explanation to the Russian-language social media site VKontacte, the censorship board claimed that it had sent multiple requests to staff at Reddit but had received no response.

Reddit Russia VKontacte

The wanted poster that appeared on VKontacte

It went on to ask for Reddit to explain its lack of response as well as its decision to allow such a subreddit to exist and has even posted a wanted poster featuring Reddit’s alien mascot.

Speaking in the TIFU subreddit subsequently, rsocfan explained how it was effectively his fault that the entire country could not go on Reddit.

Discussing whether he plans on giving into the agency’s demands, the user said it has now become a freedom of speech issue.

“Will I remove this post? No. I also think that Reddit administration needs to do nothing. This is an important issue on freedom of speech, and only RKN want to violate it.”

Updated 14/08/2015 08.13: 

After the briefest of periods, Roskomnadzor has issued a statement again on VKontacte according to Meduza saying that the Reddit ban has been lifted following a discussion with Reddit’s administrators. 

The translated statement said: “On 13 August, federal officials received on their ‘hot line’ a message from the site’s administrators saying internet users in Russia no longer have access to illegal content. Roskomnadzor has confirmed [Reddit’s] full compliance, and accordingly removed the website from the registry of illegal online materials.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic