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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Reddit censoring words like NSA, Telsa, Bitcoin, Net Neutrality

Say what you want about Reddit‘s r/technology, one of its most popular forums. Just don’t say “NSA,” “net neutrality,” “Comcast,” “Bitcoin,” or any of the roughly 50 other words that will secretly get your post deleted.

There’s a bot in r/technology, ready to delete any so-called controversial headline you try to submit.

In July, Reddit dropped two controversial subreddits, r/atheism and r/politics, from being automatic subscriptions for new users. Given redditors’ frequent complaints about overzealous moderators, r/technology, which boasts more than 5 million subscribers, could be considered their heir as the subreddit everybody loves to complain about.

As such, an intrepid redditor, creq, put together a list of words he found were suspiciously underrepresented on the subreddit. Almost all of them have at least two qualities: they’re commonly found in the intersection of technology and politics, and they can be seen as controversial, or at least likely to inspire anger in a few people.

Another redditor, SamSlate, created a number of graphs showing how often headlines with the acronym “NSA” appear on r/technology. This graph below shows the frequency of “NSA” in r/technology headlines over the past year. The dense chunk in the middle spans June through August of last year, the months during which the intial reports on top-secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden appeared online. The cutoff is clear:


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