Reddit to start complying with ‘valid’ government takedown requests

Reddit has begun censoring posts on a regional basis in compliance with government requests after being briefly banned in Russia for a post on how to grow psychedelic mushrooms.

Russia’s FCC equivalent, Roskomnadzor, threatened to ban Reddit if the site did not remove a post on how to grow narcotics earlier this week. After not hearing a response, Russia followed through with its threat, and a number of Russian users were reporting that access to the site was blocked. This sprung Reddit into action, and the post was removed and the site was unblocked hours later.

Roskomnadzor released a statement on Russian social media.

“On August 13, federal officials received on their “hot line” a message from the site’s administrators saying Internet users in Russia no longer have access to the illegal content. Roskomnadzor has confirmed [Reddit’s] full compliance, and accordingly removed the website from the registry of illegal online materials,” the post said, translated by TechCrunch.

Business Insider noted that what makes this strange is that the post in question was over two years old and had only one upvote, but even so, this post has spurred a change in how Reddit is handling government requests. A Reddit spokesperson wrote on the site that Reddit had also recently received a valid request from Germany to ban access to the subreddit r/watchpeopledie, which Reddit has also complied with. Though Reddit is under no legal obligation, the site will be be taking action to “preserve the existence of Reddit” in all regions.

“We want to ensure our services are available to users everywhere, but if we receive a valid request from an authorized entity, we reserve the right to restrict content in a particular country,” the post said.

Though users outside of that region still have access the post, Reddit users aren’t too happy. Controversy surrounding Reddit and censorship has been boiling for months now, and some users were concerned that Russia would start requesting a ban on gay subreddits, and compliance would be “censorship in its pure form,” user u/Craftkorb said. User u/rsocfan, the creator of the narcotics post, recommended that Reddit keep the post up, citing the importance of freedom of speech.

“Will I remove this post? No,” the user wrote. “I also think that Reddit administration needs to do nothing. This is important issue on freedom of speech, and only RKN want to violate it.”

In a recent post on content policy, CEO Steve Huffman noted that “Neither Alexis nor I created Reddit to be a bastion of free speech.”

Photo: Screenshot of banned subreddit



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  • Mahmoud Buttrumps

    If CEO Steve Huffman noted that “Neither Alexis nor I created Reddit to be a bastion of free speech.” Then why did they claim otherwise to begin with?