The front page of the internet wants to fight evil. But is it actually evil?
Reddit is opening a new office in Ireland, and looking to recruit an “Anti-Evil” moderator to take down content that breaks the rules. Job responsibilities include: “Reviewing reported content and assess for policy compliance quickly and effectively.” Another requirement includes the ability to “handle sensitive issues.” Will the job also require handling sitewide bans on links or shadowbanning any mention of certain individuals?
“Come for the cats, stay for the empathy,” the job listing stated … twice. Nothing was mentioned about protecting freedom of speech.
Reddit has been closed-mouth about its Anti-Evil standards. Someone posted a question to Mod Support asking, “Can the admins share what standard the Anti-Evil Operations use to remove posts and ban users?” The post was locked and removed.
Users can only speculate as to what Reddit’s definition of “Anti-Evil” is, but an interview with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian from 2018 might shed some light on the concept. Ohanian mentioned that the platform had an “Anti-Evil” software that helped remove content based on harassment policies. He also said he felt that the banning of Infowars from other platforms was a “milestone in the evolution of social media and the policing of content.”
In March 2019, a Reddit moderator pointed out that certain names of people running for office seemed to be auto-filtered by the platform “regardless of the context.” A comment on the post from another moderator said that there were “sitewide” bans on certain links that were not allowed to be shared on Reddit.
The moderator gave an example of something that was “shadowbanned” on Reddit that made no sense. She said, “There are some weird reddit-wide filters that I'm starting to notice that don't make any sense from a spam-control standpoint. For example, https:// exodus-privacy.eu.org (if you remove the space) is automatically filtered; not just for posts but in comments as well. And that's a nonprofit site for investigating privacy concerns in android apps.”
Reddit recently received $300 million from the Chinese censorship technology company Tencent, which was responsible for building China’s great firewall. Seems like Chinese censorship might come for the cats and stay for the empathy.