Deplatforming and Censorship Examples

While double checking that 4chan still exists (after reading a blog post basically saying that online free speech forums are impossible, while making no attempt to consider counter examples), I noticed that Bing is censoring it:

You can scroll through a lot of search results and never find a link to 4chan’s website, just stuff like news articles and Wikipedia talk pages.

Google and Duck Duck Go are not censoring 4chan:

DDG even says it’s an official site if you hover your mouse on the circled “i”:

I noticed my Bing had a moderate strength “Safe Search” feature on by default, but turning that off didn’t uncensor 4chan.

Elon Musk’s Twitter has now banned links to Facebook or Instagram.

TikTok videos going viral or not are significantly controlled by manual decisions, not just the algorithm and popularity.

https://www.tiktok.com/@todayindigital/video/7191948315632602373

https://twitter.com/aakashg0/status/1641976869460275201

Among many other problems with its algorithm, Twitter is deboosting anything about the Ukraine crisis.

TikTok blocked a political video in the US (but not in Germany) and the creator couldn’t see that it was being deplatformed. It looked fine/normal to her but not to others.

Reddit is so evil that thousand of subreddits, including many huge ones (tens of millions of members), are deplatforming themselves temporarily or indefinitely in protest.

list of subreddits: https://reddark.untone.uk

it includes r/iphone and r/videos which are being removed indefinitely Daring Fireball: Reddit Users Revolt

the r/videos mod team explicitly says they know reddit may steal their subreddit over this: remove them and install new moderators and reopen the subreddit.

imagine if a big publication on medium, substack or wordpress shut down and the site put it back up with their new people running it. that’s even worse than deplatforming.

imagine if a facebook group shut down and facebook put it back up with new moderators/owners. imagine if patreon did it.

imagine if i took this forum offline, and Discourse put it back up with their own moderation team. OK yeah this forum is self-hosted, but if i were using any forum host it’d be like what reddit might do. reddit is a big host where users can start their own forums for free, just like facebook, yahoo or google groups (btw yahoo groups, including mine, were all deleted on short notice after verizon bought yahoo).

oh, and now imagine a future where linode, digital ocean and others get worse and self-hosting becomes a much worse option, maybe similar to how bad running your own email server is now (originally anyone could run an email server, but spam filtering choices by gmail and others mean you have to go through companies to send out email newsletters or the emails won’t be reliably delivered).

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I forgot to mention that some individuals are deleting their reddit accounts, including people with 10+ year old accounts. Some of them, before deleting their account, are using a tool that automatically goes through and edits all their comments to say “deleted by bot” or similar. Deleting your user account not only leaves your comments visible (just with the author name removed) but also means you can never delete the comments since you no longer have access.

The open internet and its useful info is being destroyed. I just found an 11 year old reddit thread with some very useful info on a niche topic. The author’s account is deleted (I don’t know when) but the comments are still there to help me (except several comments are deleted). I saw a guy saying he’d been posting helpful tech support info on reddit for like a decade but he was going to delete that whole history of his explanations of how to solve technical problems.

On lots of topics, for years now, I’ve gotten bad generic web search results and had to search reddit specifically. But reddit wants to take away their data – that was generously donated by the users (similar to wikipedia) – because openai monetized it and all the reddit executives care about is trying to cash in on that. they want to raise prices on reading their data years after openai already got the data in hopes ai labs will start paying them tons of money. they don’t care if it kills third party apps (their official app and website are both awful) and their user base revolts.

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Continuing the discussion from Deplatforming and Censorship Examples - #70 by Elliot

CEO’s attitude is to call the protests “noise” and say “like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well”.

The reddit CEO also defamed one of the major reddit reader app developers.

The story is amazing. First they lied about him which is illegal. Then it turned out he recorded all his calls with Reddit and he released the truth. Then … the reddit CEO doubled down and attacked him more instead of apologizing (while providing no new info about what specifically happened, no counter arguments). The reddit CEO also did an AMA where he barely even tried to answer anything. It was pathetic and turned more people against him. He was getting hundreds and sometimes thousands of downvotes on everything said, too. Which is not at all what his previous comment history looks like.

The reason they’re in conflict is that reddit decided to deplatform every large reddit reading app. This has alienated all the power users, like subreddit moderators, because the official app and website are awful.

Reddit ought to have an attitude more like Wikipedia where they recognize it’s user generated content (and moderation effort), which is being donated for the good of the world, not to make the reddit owners/investors/executives rich.

The reddit ceo was a reddit co-founder too. One of the other co-founders stood up against this kind of thing and is now dead as a result.

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I’m going to tentatively assume on-topic posts of mine to this topic are okay based on the recent moderation activity, but please correct me if I’m wrong…

Anyways, yeah that sounds pretty bad. Taking for granted that getting the CEO role isn’t necessarily based on business merit and that we live in a second-handed-aristocracy-of-pull culture, I don’t really understand how people this bad at public relations become CEOs. I thought characterizing people complaining as “noise” was notably bad. Like, he knew that memo was going to leak, right? How is he that tone-deaf? How does he not know to do some fake appeasement that maybe confuses some people and makes them think Reddit is taking the problem seriously? Shouldn’t he be good at that stuff, at least? I don’t get it.

I don’t know (besides that he was a co-founder) but Reddit’s entire executive team has always been incompetent at making money. Their current plan that they are destroying the site over seems to be basically this:

  1. They just figured out that OpenAI downloaded Reddit’s data a few years ago, and ChatGPT is worth a lot of money.
  2. They decided their data is actually useful for something and worth a lot of money (a belief they did not formerly hold).
  3. So they decided to charge a lot of money for access to their valuable data.

They failed to differentiate access by bots and humans.

They failed to take into account that OpenAI already got their data, and next year’s data isn’t that big a deal compared to over 10 years of historical data.

What they’re actually going to accomplish, maybe, is gatekeeping the data to prevent other competing AI labs from accessing it (and also preventing humans from accessing it…). For that evil service to help OpenAI stay on top and suppress new AI startups, they will charge OpenAI nothing. (Don’t tell them about this idea, ugh.)

Imagine if OpenAI grabs all the data, then reddit burns it all down. Who wins there? OpenAI gets a big edge over any competitor who doesn’t have the data. But I think reddit is going to end up burning it all down while losing money…

Also, they say things like that Apollo was costing them $20,000,000 per year in bandwidth but that is ~all coming from humans who would cost Reddit a similar amount if they used Reddit’s own app.

Also, text doesn’t use much bandwidth. Why is Reddit bleeding a lot of money on bandwidth? I think it’s because they host images and videos on their own servers, which they added on purpose as new features. They started discouraging YouTube and Imgur because they wanted to own that data themselves and have fewer people follow links off-site (anti-external-links attitudes are super contrary to the point of reddit, btw).

Reddit is also killing all the porn subreddits, and they pretty much publicly said the reason is b/c they feel pressured by mainstream powerful people/groups/companies that hate porn. Obviously reddit knew some people dislike porn when they decided to allow it and lots of porn subreddits became huge. They are betraying their users and trying to sell out (but struggling to get paid for selling out). They also tried transparently lying by saying they weren’t really killing porn subreddits because old.reddit.com still exists and they’ll still be accessible there.

Please don’t assume, and please don’t post anything that puts a potential burden on me to respond or act.

Continuing the discussion from Deplatforming and Censorship Examples - #75 by JustinCEO

Yeah. This seems like “shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.”

Just seems so pointless and dumb. Pursue short term profits ineffectively to have an overall result of self-sacrificing your business for the benefit of an unrelated biz? Bizarre.

Oh interesting. Yeah I guess whatever client still has to access Reddit’s servers. I’ve seen lots of comments saying Apollo makes people usable for Reddit, so maybe Reddit’s plan was to save on costs by driving all the Apollo users away ;p

Gp.

Tangentially, it’s kind of weird how porn is in one sense more acceptable than it’s ever been, but at the same time there’s huge pressure to ban it from various places (Tumblr did the same thing IIRC).

TikTok has lots of censorship.

I don’t want TikTok banned. I think TikTok actually helps overall by having different censorship, whereas a lot of U.S. companies use similar censorship to each other. Diversity of censorship means you have a better chance to find a platform that isn’t censoring a particular topic. Diversity of censorship also makes censorship more visible – it’s easier to recognize censorship about a topic on a platform if you also use a different platform that doesn’t censor that topic. Foreign companies help with diversity.