Internet Drama

Reddit Readies for Brewing ‘Inter-Website War'; Major Subreddits Ban Links to Gawker Media

Netizens advised to stay in their houses and prepare a go bag.
 Reddit Readies for Brewing Inter Website War; Major Subreddits Ban Links to Gawker Media

(Photo: Says-it.com)

If websites are one big dysfunctional family, Reddit and Gawker Media are the two drunken uncles who can’t stop fighting over who has to pick grandpa up at the airport. Now, the two sites are preparing for a grueling “inter-website war” that threatens to rob netizens of wifi packet rations and provide hours of popcorn-eating fodder.

After news broke on Reddit that Gawker writer Adrian Chen was preparing to publish a post revealing the personal information of Reddit user Violentacrez, a moderator of the controversial subreddit r/creepshots, Reddit began to batten down the hatches. The politics subreddit, which boasts almost 2 million subscribers, announced that it will ban all links to Gawker Media properties–including Gawker, Jezebel and Lifehacker–in response to the news that Mr. Chen may be preparing to publish personal details about Violentacruz.

According to the post:

As some of you may know, a prominent member of Reddit’s community, Violentacrez, deleted his account recently. This was as a result of a ‘journalist’ seeking out his personal information and threatening to publish it, which would have a significant impact on his life. You can read more about it here

As moderators, we feel that this type of behavior is completely intolerable. We volunteer our time on Reddit to make it a better place for the users, and should not be harassed and threatened for that. We should all be afraid of the threat of having our personal information investigated and spread around the internet if someone disagrees with you. Reddit prides itself on having a subreddit for everything, and no matter how much anyone may disapprove of what another user subscribes to, that is never a reason to threaten them.

As a result, the moderators of /r/politics have chosen to disallow links from the Gawker network until action is taken to correct this serious lack of ethics and integrity.

It’s worth noting that–despite what was incorrectly reported in Politico–this is not a statement from Reddit administrators or officials, but instead from a Reddit moderator. Reddit moderators are volunteers and do not formally represent or speak for the website.

“Moderators are free to moderate their subreddits as they see fit,” Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin told Betabeat by email. “They can ban all usernames that start with the letter g if they want.”

“The statement is from moderators, who are volunteers,” he added, while declining to elaborate on Reddit’s official stance on the move.

Other subreddits are following in r/politics’s stead, including r/gaming and r/SubredditDrama. r/mensrights has also joined the fight, to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Screenshots between Violentacrez and other Reddit users show that Violentacrez believed Mr. Chen was trying to publish an article about him because of his associations with creepshots, which was set to private before being banned, and r/jailbait, which Reddit admins shut down last year.

Creepshots was just banned, but new subreddits created to fill “the hole in reddit’s seedy underbelly” have already begun to pop up. [Updated: Reddit has banned Creepsquad, a related subreddit.]

The feud etween Gawker and Reddit has been brewing for a while. Mr. Chen is vocal about his distaste for Reddit both on Gawker and on his own Twitter page. Last year, he was embroiled in yet more internet drama when he trolled Reddit into thinking he was behind LucidEnding, a user who faked having cancer for karma.

Recently, r/creepshots has been at the nexus of much contention between the two websites. Just yesterday, Jezebel ran a feature about the Tumblr “Predditors,” run by a 25-year-old female Redditor, which publishes the personal information of those who post to the controversial subreddit.

“I think it’s cute how Reddit’s CreepShots apologists/Men’s Right’s activists/etc. think we care if they stop linking to us. And also indicative of their hypocritical obsession with privacy and control,” Katie J.M. Baker, the Jezebel author behind the r/creepshots post, told Betabeat by Gchat. “It’s okay for anonymous Redditors to post upskirt photo after upskirt photo, but a huge violation of privacy for a journalist to report on the men who post them? How does that make any sense? Plus, the information on Predditors (which is temporarily down) wasn’t illegal–or difficult–for my source to track down.”

Tumblr has since shut down Predditors. [UPDATE: Tumblr has reinstated Predditors.] A new thread on Reddit alleges that someone whose information was published on Predditors was violently attacked last night, but there is so far no substantial proof corroborating that claim.

Redditors themselves seem to be barely able to control their glee over the ensuing drama:

Now, I see before me the beginnings of an inter-website war, sparked by mass doxing, blackmail, the fall of one of reddit’s legendary figures, potentially ruined lives, admins silently working in the background, and repercussions that will have devastating IRL consequences for those involved …

I now stand before you on the precipice of the greatest shitstorm of our time. We have come far from our origins as a humble kernel, and if this escalates to the point where the entire site falls around us, I’d just like to say that it was an honor serving with you all aboard the USS Orville.

It is unclear whether Mr. Chen still intends to publish his post, rumors of which began this chilling war. For now, we can only wait as the sounds of furious keyboard clacking and the cries of rage grow ever closer to the heart of the mainstream internet.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

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