You may have heard of The_Donald, It’s one of the most popular sections on the popular link sharing site Reddit. If you haven’t, it might be because of this guy:
Steve Huffman. He’s the CEO of reddit and he hates free speech. But we’ll get into that in a second.
Reddit is divided up into different categories called “subreddits” that focus on the particular interests of its readers, ranging anywhere from politics, to photography, humor, and even cannibalism. When people like a post they can upvote it which moves it up in the list of posts, when they don’t like a post they can downvote it so that the most popular posts reach the top of the subreddit.
On the front page of reddit, the most popular posts of all the subreddits are displayed in one place to every user visiting the site. That is, until the most popular posts began to be news stories and memes in support of Donald Trump.
The_Donald, as the name suggests, focuses on Donald Trump and was started in June of 2015 shortly after he announced his candidacy for president. The sub gained in popularity as the moderators of other subs began to censor and ban any user that would post a link in support of Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton even hired David Brock’s group Correct the Record to use bots and paid fake users to downvote anything critical of her campaign or presenting Trump in a positive light in order to control the narrative on Reddit, one of the most popular news sites on the internet.
But as The _Donald grew in popularity, this wasn’t enough. Their posts were still making it to the front page. That’s when Steven Huffman altered the code of the site so that upvotes on The_Donald counted as a fraction of the upvotes in other subs, such as the sub for cannibalism… …a sub that Huffman created.
As more and more users joined The_Donald, Huffman had to keep altering the code to keep censoring the sub from the front page. This became most obvious when he made a critical mistake in the sites ranking code that backfired and placed every story posted on The_Donald to the front page of Reddit for nearly an hour, right before the election. The error was quickly fixed of course and Reddit went back to censoring The_Donald.
All the censorship on Reddit has understably fostered hostility for Huffman (known as spez) within The_Donald community. Users often take to calling out Huffman/spez for his censorship, or simply tell him to fuck off. This, and the continued success of The_Donald after the election clearly enraged Huffman. So much so that he broke the trust of the Reddit community (and the law) by altering the posts of users that insulted him to insulting the moderators of The_Donald.
This might seem like a harmless prank to some, but this is a pretty big deal. User posts on Reddit have been used in court cases, including Hillary Clinton’s email investigation before congress when her email server administrator used Reddit to ask for help in altering her emails that were under subpoena. The gravity of this move cannot be overstated. Think of what could happen if Huffman decided to edit a user’s post to include something illegal such as child porn or death threats. The method he used to edit the posts is at the database level which leaves no indication that the post was edited, making it appear as if it was posted by the original user. This not only puts the users of Reddit at liability, but Reddit itself.
Shortly after Huffman made the illegal edits, there was firestorm of criticism that even made it to some legacy media outlets, but seemingly the incident has had no effect on Huffman’s position as CEO or his practice of censoring The_Donald. A leaked chat between Huffman and other reddit admins that was released after spezgate shows that Huffman was still plotting to find ways to silence or ban The_Donald completely from the site just moments after he was exposed making the illegal edits.
Reddit used to be about free speech, but when the CEO is a fascist free speech only includes opinions of pedophiles, cannibals, communists, and necrophiliacs, and not people that happen to like Donald Trump. He has already banned the community that was investigating pizzagate, whose speech will he censor next?