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The "free speech" aspect of the Gawker-Reddit fight is largely nonsense.


Stashed in: Teh Internets, Awesome, Identity, Ethics, internet, Morals

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John Scalzi nails it. This is about money:

Reddit is not a public utility or a public square; it’s a privately owned space on the Internet. From a legal and (United States) constitutional point of view, people who post on Reddit have no “free speech” privileges; they have what speech privileges Reddit itself chooses to provide them, and to tolerate. Reddit chooses to tolerate creepiness and general obnoxiousness for reasons of its own, in other words, and not because there’s a legal or constitutional reason for it.

Personally speaking, when everything is boiled down to the marrow, I think the reason Reddit tolerates the creepy forums has to do with money more than anything else. Reddit allows all those creepy subreddits because its business model is built on memberships and visits, and the dudes who visit these subreddits are almost certainly enthusiastic members and visitors...

If someone bleats to you about any of this being a “free speech” issue, you can safely mark them as either ignorant or pernicious — probably ignorant, as the understanding of what “free speech” means in a constitutional sense here in the U.S. is, shall we say, highly constrained in the general population. Additionally and independently, the sort of person who who says “free speech” when they mean “I like doing creepy things to other people without their consent and you can’t stop me so fuck you ha ha ha ha” is pretty clearly a mouth-breathing asshole who in the larger moral landscape deserves a bat across the bridge of the nose and probably knows it. Which is why — unsurprisingly — so many of them choose to be anonymous and/or use pseudonyms on Reddit while they get their creep on.

Scalzi explains that anonymity is not inherently evil or wrong.

However, if at this point in Internet history you think you’re really anonymous on the Internet, or that you have a right to anonymity on the Internet, you’re kind of stupid.

Also, Reddit is not the Internet.

Its “community standard” is found neither in the Rules of Reddit nor its “Reddiquette”.

Redditors expect that Mr. Brutsch's real-world identity deserves to be protected.

The question to ask here is "Why?" Why should that be the expectation?

70 Subreddits have censored Gawker links including the popular Politics and TodayILearned subreddits: http://reddit.com/r/bangawker

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong says such censorship is at odds with Reddit's free speech mission: http://gawker.com/5952349/reddit-ceo-speaks-out-on-violentacrez-in-leaked-memo-we-stand-for-free-speech

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted a response tonight to the Reddit mods:

7oWt3.jpg

TL;DR: We stand for freedom of speech. We will uphold existing rules against posting dox on reddit. But the reality is those rules end at our platform, and we will respect journalism as a form of speech that we don't ban. We believe further change can come only from example-setting.

Ironically, Yishan's memo was leaked to Gawker: http://gawker.com/5952349/reddit-ceo-speaks-out-on-violentacrez-in-leaked-memo-we-stand-for-free-speech

They published the full transcript.

I thought the interesting part of recent reddit news was the lady tracking down folks active on creepy Reddits and alerting police.

Not just one lady but a whole team: http://predditors.tumblr.com/

Scalzi has a surprisingly dim view of free speech. It's not just a legal or constitutional thing; some people actually value it, as an abstract principle. They choose to allow it, even if they could be more popular or profitable if they were to, entirely withing their rights, shoo it away.

I seriously doubt Reddit makes money from these taboo forums, as Scalzi alleges. And so what if the people exercising this kind of free speech are assholes? It's not free speech if it's only available for popular people and expressions.

The Taboo forums have high engagement. Where there's engagement there's money.

I think you and Scalzi are mostly in agreement -- the speech is only as free as Reddit Inc wants it to be.

There's some engagement that can't be monetized. Are there any reliable numbers on traffic/membership of the taboo forums?

I diagree strongly with Scalzi because I think this is a free speech issue and I'm not "ignorant or pernicious". And as far as I can tell, both Reddit Inc and the amorphous 'Reddit community' do genuinely value the practice of 'free speech', above and beyond any legal/constitutional formalisms or simple materialistic profit seeking.

There are no reliable numbers I've seen about taboo forums.

It seems like most of the Reddit community stays away from the racist, sexist, and violent subreddits.

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