Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beating women and dead children: Why I am boycotting Reddit

*Serious trigger warning for violence against women and dead children. Please take this trigger warning seriously.*

I've been using Reddit for a few months now, mostly because I've enjoyed the analysis of Game of Thrones, the local Bay Area Reddit for staying on top of the happenings, and the IamA Reddit for learning about interesting people. Despite the frequent misogynistic and offensive commenter, there was usually plenty to be entertained by on Reddit. It wasn't until this post that highlighted two absolutely terrible Reddits that I decided to quit Reddit for good.

For those not familiar with Reddit, here is a quick explanation of what the website is. Reddit is basically a list of forum topics that can be created by anyone with commentary on each. Sometimes the post is just a link to something (like a web article or a photo), and sometimes it is a more longform 'blog post' style forum post. Anyone can create a "subreddit" around any particular topic they are interested in (for example r/feminisms or r/gaming) and people can subscribe to those subreddits to add them to their front page stream. Subreddits each have moderators, which default to the creator of the subreddit.

For the most part, Reddit administrators have taken an 'anything goes' kind of approach to subreddits, so long as the content isn't illegal. However, this is a fairly grey line as you will see below. There are at least two very inappropriate subreddits that have been going on for quite some time.

The first is the r/picsofdeadkids subreddit, which I will not do the favor of linking here. The origin of this subreddit comes from r/jailbait, which is now closed down but was a place for linking pictures of little girls. The picsofdeadkids reddit posts pictures of dead babies and children that are pulled from police records or other shady sources. It is graphic, triggering to an extreme, and absolutely inappropriate. However, because it isn't technically 'illegal', it's allowed to flourish on Reddit and has 397 readers/subscribers (which doesn't count anyone who just goes to Reddit to read that subreddit without registering for an account).

The second one (take this trigger warning VERY seriously) is the r/beatingwoman subreddit. I probably don't have to go into details on this one. This is quite possibly one of the worst things I have ever seen on the internet. There are photos of bruised women with the caption reading 'if your girl doesn't look like this, you're doing it wrong'. There are stories linked of Islamic women who are tortured to death with cheers of support from the Reddit readers. There are personal stories about how these guys have beaten women with tips from the 'pros'. One such tip was to aim for the head/hair, because the woman will not shave her head in order to report it. That tip was followed up by a score of congratulations from the readers, affirming the terrible actions that this person may or may not have actually done.

There is page after page of awful pictures and videos and stories of women being beaten or killed. It is heartwrenching. It is impossible to know what is a joke and what isn't. If this subreddit were to fall into the wrong hands, anyone could take the 'guides to abusing women' to heart and act upon them. It is absolutely terrible. Yet, this isn't illegal by Reddit's standards. These people aren't releasing personal information of women, they're not actually killing women. Therefore this subreddit continues to pull in thousands of visits a day.

Attempts to bring this subreddit down have been replied to with comments stating that freedom of speech should allow them to continue to post there. Some responses claim that it's okay because one of the founders is a woman herself (someone who says that "her gender doesn't realize the difference between having a pussy and being one").

Whether or not these subreddits are jokes, they are very easy to take seriously. Every single post was triggering for me in the r/beatingwomen subreddit. To those who refute with "If you don't like it, don't go there": you can shove that up your ass. There is such a thing as Google searches, and I fear for those who find this subreddit who actually want to use it maliciously. For all you know, some of the contributors might be committing actual illegal acts. The fact that the Reddit administration allow parts of their site to house such terrible information and pictures makes me believe that Reddit doesn't give two shits about how that content might affect people who stumble upon the site after Googling how to beat their wives without getting caught.

The official response from Reddit General Manager, Erik Martin?

"We are a free speech site," Erik says. "We don't want to be in a position of deciding what is and isn't offensive, nor would we be capable of deciding what's offensive and what's not."
You are not CAPABLE of decide whether or not posting pictures of abused and beaten women is offensive?! Or dead children? What the hell kind of world are the Reddit administrators living in? This couldn't be a worst response in my opinion.

I will not be using Reddit anymore, and I encourage you to spread the word about this before it falls into the wrong hands.

5 comments:

  1. I am actually not surprised to see this kind of thing coning from Reddit at all. The people who use this social media site are all kinds of wrong. I tend to stick to the LGBT reddit and Feminism because those are the only two safe spaced in existence there. Anytime my blog has been linked on a surbreddit other than these two it has always brought some horrible trolls.

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  2. Oh yes, over on The Border House we are repeatedly linked into a gaming Reddit -- and it brings an onslaught of trolls. I can't stand it.

    And yes, this isn't surprising to me either, just sad.

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  3. Yeah, I will say it is completely effed up how there are people who have created those subreddits. Now, with that stated, Reddit doesn't post anything from those subreddits on the homepage or anywhere else that's easily accessible. I had no idea reddit had the r/beatingwomen and r/deadchildren subreddits until I read this article. You'd really have to search for this stuff on Google in order to find them.

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  4. Speaking of illegal and disturbing content, there are a huge number of people subscribed to /trees and /drugs, which explain how do do things like purchase illegal wares and hot do do it without getting caught.

    Shut these scumbags down!

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  5. Two years ago you wrote about this and it's all still there. Freedom of Speech should not exist while it removes the freedom of others.

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