Reddit holds a reputation as a haven for free speech, given its anonymity and room for new, user-created and moderated forums. One of its most popular forums, however, has revealed a less savory side and lower tolerance for alternative opinions on the social media platform.
The /r/science forum or “subreddit,” with 4.5 million subscribers — even more than the prominent /r/politics forum — has banned comments from “climate deniers.” Although announced this week via Grist, the censoring of comments has gone on to various degrees for about a year.
One of the moderators, Nathan Allen, justified the decision by saying that “no topic consistently evokes such rude, uninformed, and outspoken opinions as climate change,” and he referred to skeptics as “internet trolls.” These “true believers,” he continued, were “blind to the fact that their arguments were hopelessly flawed, the result of cherry-picked data and conspiratorial thinking.”
Although one is free to start a new subreddit and engage with the site without even an email address, the online community has a its own growing “reddiquette.” Further, debates about the willingness among moderators to censor content and ban specific users has generated many conflicts and splinter forums, particularly when the audiences grow influential in size.