Reddit bans primary COVID-19 misinformation subreddit, ‘quarantines’ 54 others

Reddit has seemingly changed its tune regarding COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, banning r/NoNewNormal just one week after asserting it wasn’t a problem.

“Dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman wrote in r/announcements, hours after hundreds of moderators penned and co-signed an open letter demanding Reddit take action against the increasing spread of false information on the site. However just a week later, Reddit has backtracked on its Pro-Dissent argument, banning r/NoNewNormal, the site’s “largest community” responsible for spreading COVID-19 misinformation and denialism on the site.

Reddit admin Worstnerd took to r/redditsecurity to address the rise in misinformation and subsequent policies they would enact, writing: “[COVID-19] has caused confusion, fear, frustration, and served to further divide us. It is my job to oversee the enforcement of our policies on the platform. I’ve never professed to be perfect at this. Our policies, and how we enforce them, evolve with time. We base these evolutions on two things: user trends and data.”

“Since August, we see approximately 2.5k reports/day vs an average of around 500 reports/day a year ago. This is approximately 2.5% of all COVID related content,” they continued. “While this data alone does not tell us that COVID denial content on the platform is increasing, it is certainly an indicator.”

Putting this analysis into action, Reddit vowed to ban r/NoNewNormal for breaking the rules, quarantine 54 additional Covid denial subreddits, as well as “build a new reporting feature for moderators to allow them to better provide us signal when they see community interference.”

Worstnerd also shared a clarification on health misinformation policies, writing that “health misinformation [means] falsifiable health misinformation that encourages or poses a significant risk of physical harm to the reader, while disinformation is “falsifiable health information that has been manipulated and presented to mislead. This includes falsified medical data and faked WHO/CDC advice.”

“As I mentioned at the start, we never claim to be perfect at these things but our goal is to constantly evolve,” Worstnerd concluded.

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