Are we seeing double?
After barely escaping the backlash from altering pro-Trump posts back in 2016, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is back in the news for banning the official Alt-Right subreddit. Is this another blatant attempt to censor the right?
Well, no, not really.
Terms of service actually matter
Any movement, organization, political party, religion, or similar such group is entitled to free speech and equal representation on Reddit’s platform.
There’s just one tiny, kind of important detail to keep in mind: that group must not harass, or encourage harassment of, other groups of people.
It’s this weird concept that you have to respect other people and their opinions in order to have your own beliefs valued.
As a whole, the Alt-Right movement has a reputation for spreading inflammatory speech. I personally think that it’s a bit difficult to argue in favor of a group whose core values lie in “white nationalism” (read: discrimination), especially from an equal-representation standpoint — but, of course, what I think doesn’t really matter in this context.
What Steve Huffman thinks matters quite a lot, however, and it’s clear from his actions that he feels this way as well. In the official statement, Reddit reported that the Alt-Right subreddit was shut down for violating the site’s terms of service. Reddit also mentioned that they endeavor to present the site as a “welcoming, open platform for all,” thereby confirming that users should not “post content that harasses or invites harassment.”
Free speech comes at a price
Finally, I think it’s prudent to revisit the notion of “free speech” on the internet and why it’s a flawed concept.
As with any social media site, “free speech” is a bit of a subjective term. Sure, you can post whatever you want on your profile—but if you don’t pay to host the website (and I’m positive you don’t), you don’t get to prance in and vomit hateful propaganda all over the place without some form of retribution taking place.
It doesn’t matter how many internet forum disclaimers you copy and paste into your Facebook status—if Facebook doesn’t like your discriminatory status, you’re done.
Think of Reddit as a metaphor for Steve Huffman’s house: you’re welcome to come inside and have all the controversial conversation you want, but as soon as you start actively targeting other people, he’s entitled to throw you the hell out.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Free speech goes both ways, and actions have consequences.” quote=”Free speech goes both ways, and actions have consequences.”]
Never think for a second that Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit can’t (and won’t) shut you down for failing to be a halfways decent human being.