“Reddit may be a place for open and authentic discussion and debate,” said Reddit CEO Steve Huffman.
After many moderators urged Reddit to ban COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, Reddit has taken a stance. The platform responded by upholding its decision to permit “debate and dissent” about the pandemic and, therefore, the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Dissent” Is Part of Reddit’s Foundation
In a letter on r/vaxxhappened, over 450 moderators from various subreddits involved the platform in banning any communities containing misinformation about COVID-19. Moderators from a number of the most important subreddits are on board with the plea, including those from r/aww, r/lifeprotips, and r/dataisbeautiful.
The letter slams Reddit, saying the platform has done “nothing of substance” to combat misinformation about the pandemic. It calls on Reddit to ban any “subreddits which exist solely to spread medical disinformation and undermine efforts to combat the worldwide pandemic” The post received over 169,000 upvotes.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman skilled the moderators’ letters during a post on r/announcements. He noted that while Reddit backs the CDC’s recommendations on vaccination and masking, it doesn’t support the shutdown of subreddits with opposing views.
“Dissent may be a a part of Reddit and therefore the foundation of democracy,” Huffman stated. “Reddit may be a place for open and authentic discussion and debate. This includes conversations that question or afflict popular consensus.”
Reddit won’t take action on subreddits that engage in “debate and dissent” on the pandemic, but the platform will post links to the CDC wherever necessary. It’ll still use its quarantine tool on subreddits that promote false information or are offensive to some users, requiring users to click through a warning message to enter the community.
Huffman also noted that it’ll still take action on subreddits that pose an imminent threat. This includes communities that are “manipulating or cheating Reddit to amplify any particular viewpoint,” engaging in fraud, encouraging harm, or breaking any of Reddit’s other rules.
The moderators who penned the letter, also because the members of the r/vaxxhappened community, obviously aren’t satisfied with Reddit’s response. An ongoing thread on the subreddit criticizes the platform’s decision not to ban COVID-19 misinformation.
Reddit Takes a Step Back
Is Reddit doing enough to combat misinformation? Other social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, have all been pretty strict about what’s and is not allowed in terms of COVID-19 misinformation.
Reddit’s response to the letter shows that it’s taking more of a hands-off approach to things, leaving some wondering if this may breed more uncertainty and doubt.