By using “harassment” as an excuse to ban users and sub-Reddits, tech companies in effect can block any legitimate criticism of anyone they wish to protect.

Tyler S. Farley

As some of you may be aware, Reddit is mass-banning a slew of sub-Reddits, including the very popular r/thegreatawakening which was central source of information and discussion around the “Q-anon” conspiracy which has gained quite a bit of mainstream attention in recent months.

This banning is part of a long term plan by so-called power mods at Reddit. They have laid out a list of sub-reddits to be banned and they are well on their way. Some users have suggested other subs which are more mainstream are soon to be targeted, such as r/the_donald and r/conspiracy. Although, recently r/conspiracy was removed from the list of possible banned subs.

The reason given for banning r/thegreatawakaning was that the sub promoted harassment. And while on the surface, this may seem like a plausible reason, a closer look reveals it opens the door to silence any criticism of any individual or group that Reddit or other tech companies want to protect.

So let’s say for example I post an article that outlines possible illegal actions by John Podesta and John Podesta receives on-line or physical harassment based on that article, that is grounds for me to be banned according to this new criteria. But not only me, the sub-Reddit that posted the article can also be banned. So you can see how any criticism of an individual can be seen as inciting harassment.

This is exactly what these tech companies are doing. They are laying the groundwork so they can silence any criticism under the guise of preventing harassment or incitement of violence.

There is no doubt that there is a sharp increase in censorship on virtually every major social media platform. And now, it is no longer even up for debate as a recent internal Google video showed their executives lamenting the fact that Donald Trump won the election. Not only that, Sergey Brin compared Trump supporters to fascists and he vowed to fight Trumps populist movement using the power of Google.

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I have heard some people defend the actions of companies like Reddit by using the argument that they are private companies and can therefore do whatever they want. But that argument is based on around conventional companies and breaks down when applied to social media platforms that control a majority of the information flowing through the internet.

For example, if a car company happens to be ran by a highly conservative CEO and the employees are mostly conservative, there is very little that company can do to try to influence others via their cars. They can’t change the design of their cars in order to influence people’s political beliefs.

However, social media companies are completely different, they absolutely can change their product in order to influence the way people think. By changing the information people see, they can change the way users think. And not only that, it is not disclosed to those people that the information they are seeing is being specifically modified to manipulate their thinking. And this is the reason that the argument that social media companies are private and can therefore do whatever they want is not valid. The only way that argument works is if they were to disclose on every page of their sites that they are manipulating information specifically for political purposes, something they currently do not do and in face deny in the face of evidence to the contrary.

But for now, these companies are going to ramp up the censorship even more leading up to the midterms. So expect phony excuses like harassment and “inciting violence” when one of your favorite sub-Reddit gets deleted in the next few months.

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