Reddit is banning the anti-vaccine subreddit r/NoNewNormal, and quarantining 54 other COVID-denying communities.
Reddit is known for fostering “open and authentic discussion and debate” on its platform and maintaining an open position on all ideas and positions, including those that “question or disagree with popular consensus.” – as explained by the company’s CEO in a recent post.
However, last week, Reddit was forced to clarify how its policies approach particularly the spread of potentially dangerous health misinformation. It did so after many within the Reddit community reported the r/NoNewNormal subreddit group for being a source of misinformation when it comes to Covid-19 best practices as brought forward by official sources.
In addition, the community reported the subreddit group for “brigading” other subreddit’s discussions by spamming conversations related to COVID policies elsewhere on the platform.
According to Reddit security, in the past month alone, NoNewNormal has conducted 80 such brigades in the past month. As a result, the community was warned and then banned after it continued ignoring the platform’s warnings and quarantine.
But r/NoNewNormal was not the only community to be quarantined. Another 54 subreddits have received the same restriction for similar policy-breaking behaviors.
When a community is quarantined on Reddit, the platform will display a warning screen to visitors, indicating to them that they should turn to doctors for medical advice rather than forum members, and prompting them to willingly accept to continue forth to the community page.
Previously seen as unclear, Reddit’s stance is now clear, classifying “falsifiable health information that encourages or poses a significant risk of physical harm to the reader” as a reason for being banned from the platform.
Falsifiable health information also includes the propagation of information that has been “manipulated and presented to mislead,” such as posting fake advice attributed to health officials.
In recent weeks, frustration about Reddit’s handling of COVID denial content led to many popular subs going private, an option that will restrict its content only to community members.
Specifically, users have been frustrated by Reddit’s handling of the spread of misinformation on the platform regarding the use of ivermectin, a veterinary drug arbitrarily recommended by members of the /r/Ivermectin community as a cure for COVID in humans.
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