Twitter has gained notoriety in recent months amid reports of bots, censorship, and other methods being used to manipulate the distribution of information on that platform.
However, it may be time to shift the spotlight to the social media powerhouse that is Reddit.
Long heralded as a forum for free discussion of controversial topics, now the site is littered with complaints of unjustified bans from certain communities, known as subreddits.
One of these communities is the virtual gathering place for Floridians, r/florida.
Over the past year, a significant amount of Redditors have reported being permanently banned from r/florida without breaking any of the subreddit’s rules nor receiving an explanation from the moderators.
The subreddit r/TheSunshineState exists as an alternative to r/Florida that invites its users to “contribute any interesting or controversial Florida content without fear of permaban.”
A poll posted in that community of roughly 1500 members asked whether they had been banned from r/Florida. Of the 66 who responded, 23 replied yes, 26 replied no, and 17 reported no interaction with r/florida. Of those who had not been banned, the majority (nineteen) confessed they don’t post or comment there, just lurk.
Minutes after making a comment that an increase in money supply leads to inflation, Nancy (aliases used to protect privacy) was permanently banned from r/florida.
Ralph had a similar experience after making a comment about bears. No subreddit rule was violated by his comment, and the moderators refused to reverse the ban or provide an explanation, eventually muting his ability to message them.
Matthew was able to get a few non-rule-breaking comments in before getting permanently banned and then muted.
These Redditors did not violate any r/florida rules when commenting there. They did have a common link in having participated in subreddits that lean politically conservative. It appears that a profile review is triggered with each post or comment on the r/florida subreddit, and either a bot or a moderator bans those who visit any subreddits on r/florida’s naughty list.
The r/florida moderators have a lot in common with each other.
Most have a comment history revealing their support for Biden, and the agenda of the Democratic Party is pushing. They like to participate in politically-themed subs (but never of the conservative type). One of the more blatant examples is u/FLTA posting religiously in r/JoeBiden and r/VoteDEM.
The majority of them also moderate other local subreddits in Florida:
Of the 21 non-bot moderators for r/florida, 12 are also moderators for at least 1 of 3 metro area subreddits: r/StPetersburgFL, r/Orlando, and r/Miami.
The r/lakeland and r/321 communities are also anchored by moderators from the r/florida team. However, certain metro area subreddits have zero moderators on the r/florida team: r/tampa, r/jacksonville, r/tallahassee, r/pensacola, and r/GNV (Gainesville), to name a few.
Some r/florida moderators are more active on other subreddits for regions outside of Florida. u/hectorhector, who also moderates r/Orlando and r/ucf, posts and comments much more on r/Atlanta than on r/florida.
Similarly, r/florida posts rarely come from moderator u/josetavares, who posts more on the other subs they moderate such as r/Dominican, r/PuertoRico, r/bronx, and r/newyorkcity (with a “Get Boosted” poster on the community front page). Is it wise to have the largest Florida-themed Reddit communities moderated by a handful of people who are routinely more invested in other local subreddits? What are their motives? Is it about power for some?
Well, u/RallyX26 appears to surf Reddit looking for abandoned communities to take over as moderator. Their most recent request was for r/vanart, and two months ago, they requested r/FLPolitics. RallyX26 also moderates r/youtubers, r/DrivingProTips, and apparently any other neglected subreddits they’ve found and convinced Reddit Admins to let them run.
Runner-up for power-tripping multi-mod goes to u/Snert196, who created r/bannedfromflorida:
It’s fair to say r/florida is abusively moderated by those who enjoy the cover of anonymity Reddit offers. And that would be fine if it were some niche subreddit that was upfront about the subject matter, but it’s wrong to exclude so many Floridians to the point that the dialogue there has become so restricted that it no longer represents the diverse state after which it is named.
People, especially those who live in the state, should be able to participate there as long as they follow the posted rules.
Increasingly, those who could potentially post a dissenting opinion are censored as soon as they are detected and profiled. The importance of an ethical, free press becomes clearer than ever as the original liberty of public online forums dims to a soft glow.