Reddit Defends Free Speech Policy

The chief executive of Reddit says the site will maintain its policy that anything goes as long as it’s legal.

Yishan Wong said that the site would stand up for free speech and keep content online even when “we find it odious or if we personally condemn it.”

The comments come shortly after the revelation that a notorious Reddit user appears to have been fired from his job after being outed in an article on Gawker. The piece revealed the true identity of Violentacrez, a man responsible for creating numerous sections (known as subreddits), most notably for pictures of teenage girls labeled “Jailbait.” He had earned the nickname “the creepy uncle of Reddit.”

He also acted as a moderator on “Creepshots”, a section dedicated to photographs of women taken in public places but without the subject’s knowledge. Gawker writer Adrian Chen believed he was justified in exposing the man’s true identity, talking to him on several occasions before publishing the piece.

After the expose, Violentacrez cancelled his account and re-registered under his real name. He’s now revealed that he has been told not to return to work and has already had his remote access disabled and his health insurance cancelled. It’s prompted several posters to make the comment that freedom of speech is not the same as freedom of consequences.

Although the Jailbait and Creepshots sections have been removed, Wong maintains that Reddit will continue to allow legal content. Ironically one key exception to that policy will remain: no posts are allowed that reveal personal information about a Reddit poster without their permission.

Wong also says he has lifted a site-wide ban on linking to the Gawker article, noting the ban was a mistake. However, the administrators of individual subreddits will still be allowed to block links to particular pages or sites.

12 Responses to Reddit Defends Free Speech Policy

  1. Hm… there are places where free speech should be allowed, a website with a comment section is not really one of them. The internet brings out the worst in people, and the worst people tend to be loudest and most persistent. It can easily turn an otherwise good website into an unwelcoming uncomfortable place. :-/

    • Free speech can't be turn off for any reason. We have to fight for free speech. Instead, we should make people aware that extreme troll and haters will be responsible for their action (or expression)
      Yes, people abuse the free speech, but do we as whole give up free speech just to defeat a few trolls?

  2. Freedom of speech and being anonymous are two different thing. Freedom of speech gives you the right to say whatever you want to say, but you still have to deal with the consequence of what you said (I can't just say whatever I want without a consequence. E.g. I can't yell, "Fire" in a theater and cause a havoc when there is no fire)
    Being anonymous protected political figures from a persecution (in the past), but with freedom of speech clause in place, there is no need anymore (kind of)
    Also, people like Violentacrez are destroying the intent of the law and possibly causing harsher laws to be created
    What Reddit has done is remove any responsibilities a person might have. If I were to find my picture under the creep_picture and if my future employer happens to find the picture under my name, good bye my future job. Who do I complain about my picture that was posted by a stalker?

    • You would complain to the moderator of the forum who would delete the photo. People take pictures of strangers all the time. Don’t do anything embarrassing in public where cameras are around and you should be fine.

      • 1) Bruthzfjs was the moderator of SEVERAL distasteful threads, including one that featured upskirt shots of women and one of videos of women being beaten. So, who do you complain to?

        2) Refer to the above. Your argument is effectively: Ladies, this is what you get for not wearing pants.

    • To have your life ruined if you do something is NOT being free to do it. This is a simple concept. People have gotten so DEpendent on the nanny state, and so sensitive because of the "PC" drive, that basic, obvious things like this have been warped and corrupted to the point where they receive little more than lip-service in reality, while still being believed to be real, present and vital (when they have long since been killed).

      In short, it has gotten to the point today where you MUST be anonymous in ORDER to have _any_ amount of truly free speech (unless you are a minority, then some extra slack is automatically allowed).

  3. If free speech is so important, than tell me why my mother's account has been deactivated on Reddit? She spoke out against that nasty troll before and in retaliation he intentionally sought out a pictures of her in younger years and posted it in his jailbait subreddit. She and more than a dozen women are in similar situations. It seems your voice only counts if you aren't the person being victimized. Adrien Chen is more than happy to expose him, but isn't interested in helping the people he's hurt.

    • Welcome to hivemind of Reddit. Sometime, people defend trolls in the name of free speech. But at the same time, they will censor what they don't like (or anyone who thinks differently)
      PS I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in personal responsibility

  4. I think the more interesting issue with the whole story is the internet anonymity aspect. It seems to me that it allows behavior that would otherwise not be seen if people knew that their name would be associated with their actions.

    As for freedom of speech, people should revise what it is about. It's the protection from the GOVERNMENT infringing on your freedom to speak.
    Private entities are allowed to restrict speech on their turf as much as they want. If I don't want people to talk about specific subjects in my house I can prevent that kind of speech all I want, if you don't like it you can go talk about it elsewhere. Similarly GAS are allowed to delete any comments they please, if I don't like it I can take my business elsewhere, I'm not protected by Freedom of speech while I'm on their domain.

    If Reddit does goes to court to defend the right to free speech on the internet against government then that will be different. In the mean time they are just another domain where you can say whatever you want as long as the owners of the place agree with it.

    • When the government upholds, supports, and endorses lawsuits over issues of political correctness (which itself is inherently government related – it's political), then ALL businesses must react harshly to disassociate themselves with any who commit PC transgressions simply to avoid fines, penalties, or criminal charges for those in charge. That is not at all what you talk about. What you talk about is a fantasy world. In the real world, this behavior IS government induced and therefore a violation of free speech (just somewhat indirectly). Stop trying to defend the nanny state while acting like you support free speech. You are as bad as any fascist out there.

      • Because as we all know, without government intervention, people would be perfectly comfortable working for and patronizing establishments that hire people that promote domestic violence and sexual harassment, right?

      • Nice ad hominem attack.
        How have I defended the nanny state again, or even defended free speech for that matter?

        I simply outlined what the legal term of free speech really covers.

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