Reddit recently announced it banned a popular subreddit, r/NoNewNormal, that was earlier accused of spreading COVID-19-related misinformation. However, the company maintains that it banned the forum for breaking its rules against “brigading” – a practice where one subreddit incites actions against another subreddit, and indicating that the discussion forum did not relent on its approach to tackling the coronavirus-related misinformation. The company has also quarantined 54 other COVID-19 denial subreddits; however, for violating its Rule 1 that underlines, “Communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.”
In a post by Reddit‘s security team (r/redditsecurity8), the company gives a summary of its approach to health misinformation. Reddit says that posts that pose a “significant risk of physical harm to the reader” go against its guidelines. The company further explains that a post pushing a verifiably false “cure” for cancer would “actually result in harm to people” and violate its policies. However, the company does not highlight anything here on COVID-19 or coronavirus deniers. Reddit further explains its approach towards “Health Disinformation” – falsifiable health information that has been manipulated and presented to mislead, it explains.
Even this rule does not clarify its actions against COVID-19 misinformation, and critics are unhappy over Reddit’s seeming tolerance coronavirus misinformation. As reported by The Guardian, 135 subreddits recently went “dark” (private) as a protest over the site’s refusal to block pages that spread COVID disinformation. Reddit explains that the company “never claim to be perfect at these things,” and its goal is to evolve constantly. “These prevalence studies are helpful for evolving our thinking. We also need to evolve how we communicate our policy and enforcement decisions,” the company adds. Last month, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman had stated that Reddit is an open platform and “authentic” discussion and debate. He added that it includes conversations that question or disagree with “popular consensus.”