Reddit Defines What Free Speech Means on Reddit

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Reddit leadership has clarified the official rules when it comes to creeps-on-Reddit, standing up for free speech on the site, said CEO Yishan Wong in a leaked memo via Gawker's Adrian Chen. "We stand for free speech," wrote Wong. "This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it," he said, alluding to the recent uproar over Creep Shots and the various spin-offs that act as forums for photos of unsuspecting women in tight or revealing clothing. The site still can't get away from contradictions, however, as that "free speech" still does not include "doxxing posts," meaning anything attempting to reveal personal information, "because it incites violence and harassment against specific individuals." Or posts that link to sites that do that, like Predditors. 

As for elsewhere, however, Reddit admitted that it can't control the type of information the rest of the Internet circulates, as it tried to do by banning links to the entire Gawker Media network, Predditors, and anything that linked to Predditors. "We will not ban things which are legitimate investigative journalism," Wong continued. "Free speech is expressed most powerful through the press, and many times throughout history a bad actor has been exposed by an enterprising (even muckraking) journalist, and it has been to the benefit of society," he continued. Reddit had banned Chen's article about Violentacrez, the man behind a lot of the not safe for work content on the site. But Wong has since recognized that is inconsistent with their free speech mantra: "We chose to recognize that opponents have the right to criticize us, to expose us, to tell a story about us—even if we don't like that story or we feel it's wrong. So we reversed the site-level ban on Chen's Gawker piece." Plus, it's not really sustainable to ban all posts that link to things which Reddit doesn't approve. 

We'd say this is a compromise, at best, for creeps on Reddit. Sure, they get to post all the photos of women's cleavage they want. But they still have the rest of the Internet to answer to. If a website like Jezebel, for example, writes about Predditors, Reddit won't take it down. And, of course, the rest of the Internet doesn't have to play by the site's pseudo free speech rules. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.