Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reddit’s CEO Edited User Comments

Amelia Tait (via Nick Heer):

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has publicly admitted to editing comments on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald in a move he has described as “trolling the trolls“. Huffman – who goes by “spez” on Reddit – deleted comments from the pro-Trump community on the site, and also altered comments that insulted him.


Normally when a comment is edited on Reddit – by a user or a moderator – a small asterisk will appear after the time stamp to indicate that it has been changed. In this instance, no such asterisk appeared, meaning Huffman ostensibly has the ability to edit comments without a trace. This is crucial because two months ago, a Redditor was taken to court for comments he left on the site. Huffman’s editing powers could clearly be abused to cause trouble for individuals.


The Reddit admins have had a strained relationship with the moderators and users of The_Donald, for multiple reasons. For a lot of users there, this validates some beliefs about the admin’s treatment towards them, specifically that they make an active effort to censor their content. Other users on the site feel like this sets a dangerous precedent, as it demonstrates the admins can and have edited comments without disclosure. Further users feel like, while Spez made a mistake, he was unfairly treated and harassed by TheDonald and his response was an understandable outburst.

Now, people around the site are wondering what the repercussions of this will be. Some question if Spez will be removed from his position over this. Some wonder if the admins will come forward and admit they’ve edited comments in the past.

Dan Luu:

Makes me wonder if other reddit staff have done the same thing in the past, unnoticed only because most people aren't paranoid enough to chk

Keith Lee:

Huon sued ATL & Gawker for defamation. ATL settled. At the District Court level, where the lawsuit was originally filed, it was dismissed as to Gawker on the basis of a reporting privilege and under 47 U.S.C. § 230, a Provision of the Communication Decency Act.


Because Gawker’s editors were (anonymously) authoring comments themselves, they were exerting active authorial control over the information on their forum. This led the court to labeling them an “information content provider” and prevents them from claiming Section 230 protection. The lawsuit gets to proceed.

Starting to see how relates to Huffman’s actions at Reddit?

See also: Hacker News and Slashdot.

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