Reddit staffers are working with sub moderators to ensure that discussion around Florida shooting survivor David Hogg, who has been falsely accused of being a crisis actor by a number individuals on and offline, “does not escalate into attempts to belittle, expose, or harass potential real world account owners(s).” In the week since the shooting, r/conspiracy, along with r/The_Donald and r/CBTS_Stream, have been hotbeds for disinformation and malicious conspiracies regarding the survivors of the massacre. Yet neither of the latter two subs have posted about receiving such direction. Meaning, they’re either choosing to ignore the instructions of Reddit’s Trust and Safety Team completely, or enacting these changes without publicizing it to users.
The moderators of r/conspiracy detailed their conversation with members of Reddit’s Trust & Safety Team in a post late Wednesday evening. Initially, the subreddit mods were told that any and all users attempting to link David Hogg to a Reddit account would be in violation of Reddit’s private information policy:
Hi r/conspiracy mods,
This is just a reminder that as moderators you need to watch out for and remove attempts to doxx or witch-hunt on your subreddit. We've been made aware of posts on your subreddit attempting to connect the dots between Reddit accounts and the real world identities of the account owners, as has recently happened in multiple posts related to David Hogg. You can find a refresher of our private information policy here.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Thanks, -Your Reddit Trust & Safety Team
This prompted the mods of r/conspiracy to ask for clarification regarding the specifics of the policy, as they were unsure of how to handle posts detailing connections made by third-parties, like news outlets. After a surprisingly polite back and forth, the representative from Reddit’s Trust and Safety Team reframed the policy, stating that “users can discuss the alleged connection even if it is not picked up by news media, but we want moderators like yourselves to be mindful that the discussion does not escalate into attempts to belittle, expose, or harass potential real world account owners(s).”
This is an interesting choice of words, as it indicates a possible shift in Reddit’s focus when it comes to policing the actions of its users. Doxxing and witch-hunting have been explicitly prohibited on the site for years, and pretty consistently enforced through the banning of both individual users and entire subreddits (like the recent removal of r/DeepFakes), however, this change in wording indicates that Reddit may be focusing on the tone and intensity of posts, too. Which could lead to big changes for particularly toxic subs like r/The_Donald and r/CBTS_Stream.