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135 subreddits are 'going dark' to protest Reddit's refusal to ban COVID disinformation

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/1/2021 hschlitz@insider.com (Heather Schlitz)
a close up of a sign: Reddit users are protesting the site's lack of action over COVID-19 by switching their pages to private. Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Reddit users are protesting the site's lack of action over COVID-19 by switching their pages to private. Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • 135 subreddits have switched to private to protest Reddit's refusal to crack down on disinformation.
  • Major subreddits have "gone dark," including the popular r/Futorology and r/pokemongo.
  • Some specifically call for r/NoNewNormal, a page pushing vaccine misinformation, to be shut down.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Popular Reddit communities are staging a protest over the site's refusal to block pages that spread COVID disinformation, with 135 subreddits barring non-members from joining or viewing their pages, the Guardian reported.

Among the subreddits "going dark" are some of the largest on the site, including r/Futurology and r/TIFU, which each have 10 million members.

"Weaponized misinformation is a key problem shaping our Future. Reddit won't enforce their policies against misinformation, brigading, and spamming. Misinformation subreddits such as NoNewNormal and r/conspiracy must be shut down. People are dying from misinformation," the moderators of r/Futurology posted.

The page r/NoNewNormal has been a particular target of the protest and contains many anti-mask and anti-vaccine posts. Though the group was barred from showing up on the Reddit homepage, the protesting subreddits have said the page should be removed entirely.

The pro-vaccine subreddit r/vaxxhappened, which has 364,000 members, also called for Reddit to combat COVID-related disinformation.

"We could have been better off months ago, but disinformation and lies have been allowed to spread readily through inaction and malice, and have dragged this on at the cost of lives," the page's moderators wrote.

Reddit, however, as defended its policies, citing the company's volunteer moderators and dissemination of COVID-19 resources.

"Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate. This includes conversations that question or disagree with popular consensus. We provide users with authoritative resources when viewing communities that may warrant additional scrutiny, and continue to action content and users that violate our policies," a Reddit spokesperson told Insider's Azmi Haroun.

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