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    Voat: What Went Wrong? culture historical battlepenguin.com
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    Voat is a link aggregation platform, where users can submit text or links to content, comment on existing submissions and vote both links and comments up or down. It’s essentially a Reddit clone, but, due to several bad design decisions, it has become known on the rest of the Internet as a community that promotes intolerance and hate speech.

    What.

    Voat was created in direct response to Reddit’s deplatforming of hate subreddits, and its owners and content moderators explicitly invited those deplatformed trolls with open arms. Voat’s notoriety wasn’t the inadvertent consequence of bad decisions, it was part and parcel of the site from day one.

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      As far as I remember it wasn’t created as a response[1], it was fairly new at the time a lot of people jumped ship tho. It was just created as a news aggregator site with a focus on freedom of speech. Then all the reddit banning happened and a lot of people moved there.

      [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voat

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        Yeah, Wikipedia certainly seems to agree with you.

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          Any platform that focuses on “freedom of speech” is dog whistling for hate speech.

          Removing hateful garbage off your platform is exercising your freedom of speech in a responsible way.

          There is a clear line between censorship that is about brainwashing the masses and that which removes things that only exist to hurt/attack people. If you can’t see this line you have a problem.

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            Any platform that focuses on “freedom of speech” is dog whistling for hate speech.

            What a world we live in. Wow.

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              Show me one “free speech” platform that isn’t full of hate speech please. They’re all the same.

              Freedom of speech does not mean I have to be forced to read or listen to it. Or publish it.

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                If you asked the maintainers/moderators of Lobsters, reddit or even HN, I’m sure they’d all attach a very high value on free speech. I’m sure you’ll say, “but that’s different because they don’t treat free speech as an absolute value that is prioritized above all else.” But that isn’t what you said.

                In any case, I’m more or less reacting to how absolutely incredulous your position is. It’s straight out of 1984 doublespeak. Historically, prioritizing free speech has always been understood as an ideal, and that allowing others to say what they want is very much distinct from actually endorsing the message. But we’ve lost that ideal apparently. Absent other evidence, “prioritizing free speech above all else” is at worst naive. Jumping to “they just want a place for a hate speech” is absolutely absurd. And your weaseling “dog whistle” phrasing is doing exactly that.

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                In one sense, yeah, I feel you, but in another, more pragmatic sense, /u/feld is completely correct, and the world would be a lot better if more people realized it.

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                  Thank you, and this is the last I’ll comment on it. Online. Forever. This is only a discussion worth having in person.

                  I’ve simply had enough of this. People wrapping themselves in the Free Speech flag and spreading hateful crap is leaking everywhere we go on the internet. The problem is that the internet is not a good analogy for real life or a public square. There is no fear or shame for these people.

                  In real life, exercising your right to hate speech looks like this: https://www.instagram.com/p/BX-0YVIlLGz

                  On the internet, it’s more like guerrilla warfare. These cowards do not have to deal with confrontation. They’re allowed to spread their hate with no consequences, shame, or fear; protected by their computer screen separating them from the world.

                  Remember, only one side of the political spectrum is filled with people whose goals are to hurt people.

                  If you really think Free Speech Zones are such a great idea, why not lobby to open Lobsters to the masses instead of having an invite-only membership?

                  Freedom of speech is definitely important. People should be allowed to say whatever they want without fear of criminal punishment. But platform operators are still allowed to control what is published on their platform.

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                    If you really think Free Speech Zones are such a great idea

                    On the Internet, I don’t think they are a good idea at this point in time. I don’t regularly visit any web site that prioritizes free speech above all else. I am myself on the moderation team for official Rust community spaces and have been an advocate for stronger moderation here at Lobsters.

                    So it seems to me like you’ve completely misunderstood my criticism. Which isn’t that surprising, because outrage culture (along with several other things) drives an Us vs. Them mentality. It’s seemingly inconceivable to you that someone can say “I believe in free speech” and actually be sincere about it without also being a surreptitious vehicle for hate speech. I’ve been in online forums for a couple decades at this point, and I personally see web sites that prioritize free speech above all else as bad ideas, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there that see them as good ideas in good faith, or even have ideas on how to fix what makes them so bad. I don’t know how to do that, but there’s a lot I don’t know. And just because I don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean I’m automatically going to assume the worst about people.

                    But if the best we can do is rave about dog whistles, then we’re never going to see the rich nuance that is involved in these issues, and good people are going to get caught in the crosshairs of outrage.

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                      It’s seemingly inconceivable to you that someone can say “I believe in free speech” and actually be sincere about it without also being a surreptitious vehicle for hate speech.

                      I appreciate that you interpret what’s being said through the lens of Us-vs-Them extremism and so say things like “seemingly inconceivable” when summarizing someone else’s position. There’s certainly enough evidence in the dialog to support that conclusion. Nevertheless I think you mischaracterize what’s actually being said, or suggested.

                      It’s not that we think good faith advocates of free speech literally don’t exist. It’s that they are so much in the minority in the spaces and contexts that we’re talking about that they may as well not exist in a statistical sense. And, carrying that point a bit further, that spending more than a statistically insignificant amount of time, energy, or benefit of the doubt addressing those people is (at a minimum) a misallocation of resources, and (at a maximum) actually providing normalizing cover to the bad faith actors in the space. And exploiting that dynamic, exploiting the naïvety of idealists who want to assume good faith and have a discussion purely on the merits, is arguably the principal tool that trolls use to achieve their ends.

                      I like to think of it in terms of macro vs. micro. I think you are coming at this discussion from a micro- or individual-scale: in any given pairwise interaction between two people, it’s a shame and probably even harmful that we don’t give the benefit of the doubt and engage in good faith. I don’t disagree. But I, and I suspect feld, are coming at it from a macro- or group-scale: we care about the aggregate effect of positions on issues, measured at the societal level. And rational advice or behavior or best practice at one scale is frequently entirely opposite the best practice at the other scale.

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                        Yes. I am certainly predisposed to an individualist viewpoint. But I guess that’s the point. I don’t believe in outrage culture as a means to an end, in part because it gets otherwise good people caught in the crosshairs. At a macro pragmatic scale, outrage culture is not limited to very clear cases of Nazis or trolls or fascists or otherwise bad people. It makes leaps of faith based on “dog whistles.” Ultimately, people throwing around phrases like “dog whistles” are not held responsible when they’re wrong, in my experience. It sours all interaction instead of just the interaction with trolls/Nazis/fascists.

                        I am also in general pretty skeptical of a statistical argument here. I can see how one can perceive statistical significance here, but I’d be very surprised to see hard data supporting that conclusion there because I’m not sure it’s actually available.

                        As I said, we are on two different wavelengths here.

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                    I don’t agree and based on your other comments, we are definitely on two different wavelengths here. IMO, the rise of the phrase “dog whistle” has allowed for sloppy and lazy thinking. It being used here, in this context, is exactly what outrage culture is built on top of. Hate speech is bad, but so is being outraged when someone says they like free speech. There’s a non-ridiculous position to be had in the middle there.

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                  First of all, I never actually got into the discussion of what “freedom of speech” means, whether it’s worth defending, or whether it’s hate speech in disguise.

                  If you can’t see this line you have a problem.

                  I don’t see why you felt any need to attack me. I merely clarified that it wasn’t created as a response to the reddit bans, it fed from them as it was advertised as a platform for freedom of speech which attracted the kind of people reddit was getting rid of. I don’t think I defended any position anywhere in my post. I just stated some facts about the timeline.

                  Now, after this has been clarified, I mostly agree with you but I still think it’s a slippery slope and one that is worth examining thoroughly.

                  Just as an extra comment, I don’t think someone defending freedom of speech is automatically defending hate speech. There are real freedom of speech problems around the world, and I don’t think this antagonization of the term brings anything positive to the table.

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                Yeah. There’s neutrality, and then there’s misreporting. This definitely falls into the second category.

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                I’d like to comment on another meta-point in the article.

                The trouble with this type of platform restriction is that the opinions do not go away. Those who are removed from social media platforms often feel ostracized, angry and perhaps even vindicated in their persecution. They take to other platforms like Gab and Voat, where other like minded people validate those opinions. They leave larger Internet communities with a variety of voices that could potentially steer their own opinions in a more moderate direction.

                This was a perfectly reasonable and effective position on content moderation until recently. But what we’ve learned about internet communities in, say, the past decade, is that sunlight is not always the best disinfectant. Trolls and Nazis and etc. will reliably ruin platforms if left unchecked, and even swing moderates into their camp; the idea that they can be made more civil by exposure to cultural norms is simply not borne out by the evidence. Consequently this sort of free speech idealism is naïve to the point of being unethical. Free speech isn’t an unimpeachable virtue, or some end to work towards. It’s a means, a tool, that we’re obliged to wield to just ends.

                Furthermore, getting the opinions to go away isn’t really the goal. Laws don’t make crime disappear, but we still have them, because they tend to have positive outcomes on their societies. Similarly, deplatforming doesn’t make bad ideas disappear, but it does reduce their availability and accessibility. Deplatforming works, let’s keep doing it.

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                  Does Deplatforming work and what do you mean by work? Brendan O’Neill has some very good points about how things we currently consider ‘progressive’ have been deplatformed in previous centuries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtWrljX9HRA

                  Furthermore, I’d suggest reading The Coddling of the American Mind, which talks a lot about the current call-out culture in academia, that leads to harming the relationship between students and professors; preventing people from being able to discuss difficult topics and ideas without fear of retribution or being called Nazis or White Suprematists.

                  Trolls and Nazis and etc. will reliably ruin platforms if left unchecked, and even swing moderates into their camp

                  One thing I didn’t really cover is the issue with anonymity. That is another problem space (and I’m working on a full post on it). Anonymous networks are really … interesting … as far as content (4chan, 8ch and other chans .. Reddit/Voat/HackerNews, ActivityPub/Fediverse stuff). People act very different anonymously, which is one reason Facebook and Google+ pushed so much for only having real names/people, and why Reddit/Twitter require so much moderation to make them more (advertiser) “friendly” platforms. There are a lot of complexities there to unpack.

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                    If you get to link to YouTube and pop politics books, then I get to link to https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/01/neutral-vs-conservative-the-eternal-struggle/ and https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/08/15/my-id-on-defensiveness/ which makes a pretty reasonable argument that there is no way Voat could have possibly gone right.

                    Or, to summarize it another way, the same way the distinction between consumer tech and enterprise tech doesn’t exist, the distinction between “separate online communities” doesn’t exist either. Stuff that happens on one will have an effect on the other, inevitably. The discourse on Twitter (including the effects of their algorithms) leaks onto Lobsters and back onto Twitter again; you can have some control over your little corner, but you aren’t actually separate.

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                      Does Deplatforming work and what do you mean by work?

                      By “work” I primarily mean that fewer people get exposed to hate speech at a macro scale, especially inadvertently. But also that fewer people get recruited into hate groups, especially for the lulz. And also that hate speech propagandists, robbed of some of the dopamine from engagement on larger platforms, are discouraged from continuing. And yes, all evidence suggests that deplatforming works by these metrics.

                      People act very different anonymously,

                      Again, this was a truism like 10 years ago, but we’ve since learned that, anonymous or not, the internet tends to create echo-bubble environments that bring out the most extreme and frequently negative properties of the human condition. There’s an abundance of grotesque, racist, whatever nonsense written by people on Facebook next to their real names. There aren’t any consequences for it, really, so why not?

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                        By “work” I primarily mean that fewer people get exposed to hate speech at a macro scale, especially inadvertently

                        I think this gets into dangerous territory. We should be exposed to things we don’t like or agree with. Having friends of different political backgrounds and ideological persuasions, and honestly talking about tough issues, is how we grow and change over time. I’m not for bullying, but I’m also not for safetism. It’s a hard line to cute and much harder on-line than in real life. Like the Brendan O’Neill debate I posted, there was a time when people who thought homosexually wasn’t wrong or that we didn’t need god or that the Bible should be translated into languages that could be read by everyone, were de-platformered, marginalized and told their ideas were greatly offensive. To say which ideas are good or bad for society change greatly over time. I know my views on what is just and unjust have changed significantly from my 20s to my 30s.

                        Yes there are trolls who just shit post. But there are also a lot of true believers, who went cut from a platform they feel they’re making reasonable comments on, will go further into their cause and more radical. We saw that when Anita Sarkeesian deleted all the YouTube comments on her videos and locked them. Yes there were typical garbage YouTube comments, but there were also a lot of reasonable arguments. You delete all of those, and people tend to go harder in and be less reasonable. De-platforming lets people grab onto the same victimhood culture as those who de-platform; the “my views are being oppressed” rubbish instead of “let’s talk about things and maybe agree to disagree.”

                        I think I understand where your coming from though. I think these topics are pretty complex though, and they can get into some really gritty details, for example the recent Stack Exchange / pronoun / code of conduct fiasco. Those are the type of debates that quickly get muted everywhere because we’re simply to afraid to have them. They then show up as much more polarized and much more extreme hard left/right lines when they appear on Reddit/Gab/Voat/etc.

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                          We should be exposed to things we don’t like or agree with.

                          Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

                          It’s fine to say that Chicago-school economists should be exposed to Austrian economic theory. Or that Baptists should be exposed to Lutheran theology. That Ford owners should be exposed to GM fans. That NIMBYs should be exposed to YIMBYs.

                          It’s not fine to say that a rape survivor should be exposed to the gloating of their assailant after being found not guilty on a technicality. Or that a black school child should be exposed to a Klu Klux Klan rally on their walk home from school. These things are certainly and technically “different ideological persuasions” but no good is advanced by enduring them.

                          So there’s definitely a line where the ideal of free speech, or the marketplace of ideas, or whatever, is insufficient to justify the outcome. We’re just debating where that line is.

                          It used to be that we could talk about white supremacy or Nazis or whatever pretty freely, because nobody (or very very few people) were actually threatened by those things. But the context has changed, white supremacists are marching in our streets with literal torches, and lots of people have very good reason to be afraid of what might come next. The line of what’s acceptable to deal with, in this particular space, has moved. So, no, at a societal level, we shouldn’t be forced to confront this particular “thing we don’t like or agree with” in deference to an abstract ideal. We are justified in stomping it out, like an immune system response, with tools like deplatforming, and whatever others are effective.

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                            we’re simply to afraid to have [debates]

                            This is not a fact. This is a right-wing trope that’s not based on reality all that much.

                            No one is “afraid of debate”. Actually people are just tired of having to prove that they deserve to exist, to be themselves, to love who they love, and so on. These things should not be up for debate.

                            De-platforming lets people grab onto the same victimhood culture as those who de-platform

                            They grab onto that either way.


                            Highly recommended listening:

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                              We should be exposed to things we don’t like or agree with. Having friends of different political backgrounds and ideological persuasions, and honestly talking about tough issues, is how we grow and change over time.

                              Fascists don’t argue in good faith. You aren’t going to change minds in a positive direction by platforming them. What you will do is tacitly promote the idea that genocide is a valid topic of disagreement, and help them recruit.

                              Deplatforming them works.

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                                Milo wasn’t wrecked by deplatforming. Milo was wrecked by defending pedophilia and directly working with neo-Nazis, which is what made his right-wing supporters turn on him. The “Deplatforming stopped Milo” narrative only appeared like a year later.

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                                  The “Deplatforming stopped Milo” narrative only appeared like a year later.

                                  At the exact point that Milo said that he no longer had an audience enough to sustain him, and had to work on other projects for money.

                                  You’re saying that he was “wrecked by defending pedophilia and directly working with neo-Nazis, which is what made his right-wing supporters turn on him”, which is in and of itself, a form of deplatforming. Whether or not he did it himself is irrelevant to the fact of it being deplatforming or not. It’s like saying “he didn’t drive a vehicle, he drove a truck”.

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                                    I believe that those incidents are what motivated his deplatforming, and the decline in audience he suffered was multiplied by his loss of access to a large platform.

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                                    Fascists don’t argue in good faith.

                                    And everyone is a fascist who doesn’t agree to your agenda. You can be “deplatformed” from the largest mastodon instance if you have the “wrong opinion” on funding domestic terrorist organizations (the antifa), and voice it.

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                                      You can be “deplatformed” from the largest mastodon instance if you have the “wrong opinion” on funding domestic terrorist organizations (the antifa), and voice it.

                                      If I’m reading between the lines correctly, here, and the implication is that you think a group literally called Anti-Fascists are terrorists, then I don’t think you really get to call foul when people judge that to be roughly aligned with fascism, eh?

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                                        there was a poll:

                                        • you support the antifa (that is a terrorist organization in the USA!) with money
                                        • you are a fascist

                                        I think the antifa an their supporters are the fascists of these days. The binary rhetoric, the violent opression of different opinions, etc. are just as bad as what they claim to be against.

                                        Regarding de-platforming: I was born in a communist dictatorship. Lots of voices and opinions were “deplatformed”, in the name of the greater good, “antifascism”. For example punk music, and punks, who are now thought to be a left wing/left leaning genre, were just as much enemies of the “left wing” state… I believe discourse is necessary and nobody should be de-platformed, as long as their actions are legal, and when they are illegal, they should be regardless of political stance.

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                                          I think the antifa an their supporters are the fascists of these days. The binary rhetoric, the violent opression of different opinions, etc. are just as bad as what they claim to be against.

                                          Well, that’s ludicrous.

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                                            That’s also an opinion, and I’m glad to hear that. Now I won§’t go to de-platform you for disagreeing with me. It should be this simple. Unfortunately it is not.

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                                        Case in point.

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                                    By “work” I primarily mean that fewer people get exposed to hate speech at a macro scale, especially inadvertently.

                                    Personally I’m totally uncertain on this topic, but seeing that banning people from reddit has made them relocate to voat, banning threads on 4chan has made them relocate on infinitychan. There they gather, organise, produce more propaganda and create more stories. Would they have done so on the previous platform? probably. What I don’t know is if it would be better or worse. What I find even more perplexing is that if one, “edgy”, community gets band on one site, it gives a push to all of them. Ban racists on facebook, and reddit will use it to push their narrative.

                                    I really don’t see a solution, but what’s wrong it to claim that deplatforming is a step forward. That’s like saying that just throwing your rubbish out of the window is fine, instead of putting it in the recycling bin.

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                                      Banning people from reddit has made them relocate to voat, banning threads on 4chan has made them relocate on infinitychan

                                      I don’t care about the true believers. Let them fester in their holes. I care about the thousands or millions of passersby, regular visitors to popular sites like Reddit or (less so) 4chan, who get exposure to these hate cultures when comments by the trolls are co-mingled with rational people in unrelated articles, or when racist memes are mixed in with cat videos on /r/all. Reducing that exposure is a huge net win and worth doing.

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                                        A study found the effect of Reddit’s bans was to reduce the incidence of hate speech there, including from individuals who’d formerly participated. (I’m not aware of research for or against the narrative you quoted. Maybe somebody has more sources.)

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                                          But that’s my point. You just need a few “true believers”, and enough people to trust or follow them. They will (and have) return, and they will be (and are) stronger. If they don’t get in through the front door, they will use every crack in the wall to slowly infest any community from the fringes inwards. It’s just deferring a problem that was not created in the space of moderation and curation.

                                          Again: This is not an argument for or against banning. I’m just saying nothing works, and that should be consciously realised.

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                                            You just need a few “true believers”, and enough people to trust or follow them.

                                            “Deplatforming” takes away the second part.

                                            People who had huge followings on major social-media sites suddenly have far far smaller followings when kicked off, because they no longer have the major sites’ algorithmic “suggestion” systems giving them free promotion to millions or even billions of eyeballs. And that switch, from having new people passively funneled to you en masse by the original platform, to needing your existing audience to actively follow you somewhere else and actively promote you to people not already on the new platform, typically comes with a multiple-orders-of-magnitude drop in reach and following.

                                            I believe that’s also in part why reddit’s “quarantine” feature exists; one effect of quarantining is that it yanks the subreddit out of automated promotion/suggestion by the site’s algorithms, which makes it far harder to recruit across the site through getting things splashed onto random users’ home-page views of reddit.

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                                              People who had huge followings on major social-media sites suddenly have far far smaller followings

                                              Sure, when it’s about individuals you’re concerned about then de-platform as much as you want to. But watch out, not that this one is gone, three others are trying to fill the hole he left behind. But seriously, a twitter account, a youtube channel or whatever is just an appearance. Anyone who used image boards knows how much even a small group of creating individuals, even if nobody ever finds out who they are, can do. The site can be shut down, but they can just as easily reconstitute themselves anywhere else. Maybe it takes a while, but just pushes people further.

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                                                But watch out, not that this one is gone, three others are trying to fill the hole he left behind.

                                                You say these things as if they’re just natural ways of the world, as if they’re true, but they’re just not.

                                                When /r/fatpeoplehate was banned why didn’t /r/largepeopleanger and /r/hatethosebigfolks and /r/hatefats spring up in its absence? When Cloudflare deplatformed 8chan why didn’t 16chan and 32chan and 64chan immediately rise up from the ashes? When what’s-his-face who did all that heinous shit to the Sandy Hook parents was banned from all his vlogging and podcasting channels, why didn’t he and his fans just create dozens more?

                                                When you de-platform someone or something that’s built a substantial audience, the creator and the audience have to do a lot of work to build themselves back up to their previous levels. And it’s a lot harder when the platforms that drive the highest engagement and acquisition numbers won’t host your shit anymore.

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                                                  When /r/fatpeoplehate was banned why didn’t /r/largepeopleanger and /r/hatethosebigfolks and /r/hatefats spring up in its absence?

                                                  As far as I remember, there were a few subreddits that came up to replace them, but all of them were shut down in their infancy. But then again, you’re confusing the forum for the people, they didn’t disappear. It’s internet pre-history by now, but it was one of the rallying calls leaving reddit, and was used as an example for how “SJW” are taking over. This lead to voat, 4chan exodi, and still is part of their impulse.

                                                  When Cloudflare deplatformed 8chan why didn’t 16chan and 32chan and 64chan immediately rise up from the ashes?

                                                  Oh there are millions of image boards that are trying to fill their absence, but that takes a bit. infinitychan also had to prove itself after all. But you’re right, until then, they are weakened. And if all you’re after is short term goals, good job. But again, the people, the ideas, the images are all still there, preparing to regather. And I’ll bet that this will incentivise more people than ever before to look into distributed alternatives, that will be harder to “de-platform”, because just like the users, they will have no platform they rely on.

                                                  When you de-platform someone or something that’s built a substantial audience, the creator and the audience have to do a lot of work to build themselves back up to their previous levels.

                                                  You’re doing it again. I’m not talking about individuals or “content creators”, they are worthless. It’s the same kind of thinking that leads people to believe that if Hitler were killed in WW1, there would’t have been any nazis. It’s an underestimation and fatally a lack of understanding what is being dealt with.

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                                                    I’m not talking about individuals or “content creators”, they are worthless.

                                                    What are you talking about, the ideas themselves? The movements?

                                                    Movements are only as strong as their adherents, the people behind them. Making it harder for the movements’ content creators to reach and engage audiences is nearly as good as somehow stopping people from being bigots in an abstract sense. It’s not the same but the net effect on a society is approximately equivalent. And more to the point, it’s one of the few ways that a society has traction in fighting these antisocial contagions.

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                                                      What are you talking about, the ideas themselves? The movements?

                                                      Am I really that incomprehensible? Is what I am saying that foreign? I’ll quote myself:

                                                      banning people from reddit has made them relocate to voat, banning threads [made by… people] on 4chan has made them relocate on infinitychan

                                                      The site can be shut down, but they can just as easily reconstitute themselves [ie. the community, of… people] anywhere else. Maybe it takes a while, but just pushes people further.

                                                      But again, the people, the ideas, the images are all still there, preparing to regather

                                                      The actually existing people behind these posts. Do you think the harassers and trolls aren’t driven by conviction? Do you think racists think what they do because they are bored? These “movements” are movements of “content creation”, not lead by them. Those parts of these committees that people are always talking about, would be the last to give up because of inconvenience. They literally think there is a world conspiracy against them. It’s just not that simple.

                                                      It’s not the same but the net effect on a society is approximately equivalent.

                                                      But again, t e m p o r a r i l y.

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                                                        Do you think the harassers and trolls aren’t driven by conviction?

                                                        Yes, I think conviction merely provides the rationale for what they’re doing, I think the vast majority of their actual output is primarily driven by dopamine responses from audience engagement. And if you take that away, conviction alone won’t be enough for them to meaningfully continue. Not that it matters: if they want to bleat into the void and have nobody hear them, that is a complete victory from my perspective. I’m concerned about macro-scale effects on society.

                                                        Do you think racists think what they do because they are bored?

                                                        In our zeitgeist, on the internet platforms we’re currently talking about? Yes, actually. That’s a huge part of it. And things that are boredom-adjacent: a sense of community, dopamine from engagement, etc.

                                                        It’s the 90/9/1 thing that applies to any online community, the fact that it’s about hate ideologies is irrelevant. 1% of the people are the true believers and actually producing content, 9% are highly engaged and curating/amplifying/whatever, but 90% are lurkers, consumers, a passive audience that is fickle and will disappear if you can deplatform the 10% from the most popular N sites on the internet.

                                                        Every society will always have some bigoted assholes, and they’ll always have some kind of cult of personality or ideology that will attract some people. That’s unavoidable, those 10%. What’s avoidable is letting those subcultures attract and grow their 90% audiences. That’s the shit that tends to produce the lone-wolf spree shooters, tends to normalize microaggressions in day-to-day life, and most everything in between. And deplatforming is a really good tool for stopping that specific thing. Which is huge.

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                                                          In order for this to not go on forever, I’ll try to just summarise what I see our disagreements being:

                                                          1. You’re concerned about the “macro-scale effects”, while I am more worried about the long-term effects.
                                                          2. You think that racism is fuelled by boredom, while I think that is has deeper roots (although it can be set of by (life) boredom).
                                                          3. You think that the 90/9/1 rule still applies, I think that the power/danger of the new communities comes exactly from transcending it.

                                                          Unless you have anything else to contribute, I think it would be better to come to an end with this thread. The only question I have for you is what your direct experience is with these underground forms and image boards?

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                                      Coddling is a silly book rife with contradictions, it doesn’t strengthen your case to namecheck it https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/20/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind-review

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                                        Guardian is a silly newspaper rife with contradictions. What’s your point?

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                                          I have no real stake in the Guardian as a publication overall; it’s got a lot of crap, and some decent articles every now and then. I thought the review did a great job demonstrating why Coddling is a silly book. That should have been obvious.

                                          By just attacking the least important part and not engaging with what I linked in any substantive way, I suspect you’re not arguing in good faith, saying quippy aggressive things. Come back if you want to address the contents of the review, or Coddling.

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                                            I read this review and I’ve read the book. Frankly, the review doesn’t really address the book. This review is polarized and mentions some parts of the book totally out of context, and then tangentially starts talking about politics and Trump. The book is a really good read, and it’s well sourced. I looked up several of the stories it mentioned while reading it and I think it does a fair job of portraying what’s happening in a lot of universities, especially on the west and north east coasts.

                                            There is a growing distrusted between those who teach in academia and their own students. Call-out culture is a a thing. There is a growing trend to react today first and to call for resignations and dismissals; to the point where I know people in academia who are afraid to talk about any difficult or hard issues.

                                            It’s not a silly book. I’ve listened to other interviews with people like Haidt (one of the authors) along with people like Sam Harris who have brought up these same issues. Harris and Haidt is often labelled as alt-right or alt-right adjacent (same with Joe Rogan), but reading and listening to their views, they’re hardly that! And this goes back to the issue of calling everyone you don’t like or disagree with a Nazi or White Suprematist (especially those who don’t self-identify as such). It pushes more of this polarization narrative and people who have never even listened to these people now immediately dismiss everything they say.

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                                              Thanks for actually engaging on this. I happen to disagree with almost everything you wrote (I read the book and think the review is dead-on) and think Sam Harris is a pompous Islamophobe and Joe Rogan is boring, mainstreaming people with terrible views by never challenging them, &c; &c;

                                              I doubt we’ll get very far hashing it out here (and I have work to do lol, you probably have other responsibilities than hashing this shit out with a stranger on the Internet) but again, appreciate you rising up and responding sincerely 😄

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                                      I whole-heartedly believe that freedom of speech is an end in itself, but that doesn’t mean I’m against moderation. Not at all – too many communities are ruined by unpleasant, ill-willing people, and I think this very site is a clear example of how important content moderation can be.

                                      Reddit, however, is a different type of site, one with many communities that are more or less separate from each other. Already before those hateful subreddits were banned, what they wrote in their walled garden never reached the eyes of redditors on the outside, unless they willingly looked inside – in this sense, there’s really no difference between subreddits and separate websites. So why were these subreddits banned? Well, because of pressure from other redditors, peeking inside the walled garden and not liking what they saw, and shareholders, presumably.

                                      Of course, even though there’s little difference between having your community on Reddit versus hosting it on Voat, in the sense described above, Reddit is a bigger platform with more users than Voat. Being expelled from Reddit severely limits the user base of a community, which can be used both as an argument for banning these communities and as an argument for being careful about banning any communities whatsoever.

                                      Anyway. I’m not defending these communities. My point is just that these bans weren’t really examples of content moderation, but rather, giving in to large amounts of criticism, valid or invalid as it may be.

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                                        From your article:

                                        Those with the power to do so have both the right and ethical obligation to stop these infections at the source, by organizing, by protesting, by de-platforming, and by recognizing that free speech isn’t an end in itself, but merely a means, a tool, which we’re obliged to use to make our society better.

                                        I see nothing in that sentence with which Tourquemada would have disagreed.

                                        We spent the last four hundred years building a world in which might doesn’t make right. We built a society which tries really hard not to unperson dissenters. It’s taken a long time, and it hasn’t been perfect, but we did it. And now, in just about a decade and a half, we have thrown away four centuries’ hard work and created a world in which it is once again no longer possible to speak truth to power, because once again those in power feel comfortable using that power to extinguish dissent and dissenters.

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                                          We built a society which tries really hard not to unperson dissenters . . . And now . . . [we] created a world in which it is once again no longer possible to speak truth to power . . .

                                          Look dude if literal Nazi-ism and white supremacy qualifies as “dissent” and “speaking truth to power” to you then we’re not going to be able to have a productive conversation. And to be extremely clear that is explicitly and only what this discussion is about. Not abstract and undefined “uncomfortable political ideas” or “unpopular opinions” or other weasel phrases. This whole conversation is about the alt-right race-baiting white-supremacist trolls of Voat.

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                                          I think there is a large part of not being able to combat these ideologies because many people just don’t understand the fundamentals of them to begin with. That makes it easier to push people to extreme theories or ideologies because, in many cases, they put forth simple arguments for them or against whatever they’re against. It’s kind of like an ELI5 for ideas.

                                          I’m not opposed to moderation and I think outright inflammatory posts should be removed immediately, but I also think we should be educating people better about ideas and not just resorting to calling people names. There are arguments against these ideologies, but we don’t have a general populace explaining, in an easy to digest way, why they aren’t good. I think we’re too quick to try to silence, which really doesn’t silence at all, but pushes the fringe folks together where their ideas echo and ultimately amplify.

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                                          I don’t understand this paragraph

                                          While banning some of these communities may seem good on its surface, and Reddit is free to do whatever they want with their platform, the reality is that it has created a mono-culture. People with more controversial ideas no longer want to contribute content to a website which censors difficult topics. On the flip side, the communities people have migrated too only attract the controversial voices and, over time, tend to squeeze out the more progressive and moderate people; people who are also unhappy with the censorship of large platforms.

                                          You observe that controversial voices push out the more normal people. Why wouldn’t you expect that to occur on Reddit as well? Many communities have been ruined by trolls and they really never recover. If you run Reddit it can make sense to remove the most toxic elements in order to preserve the site in general. Stated another way, empirically it’s been shown you can either have a website mostly full of normal people and a few assholes or a website mostly full of assholes and a few normal people.

                                          We can agree both are a bit of an echo chamber, but I know which one I prefer.

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                                            I dunno. I feel like Reddit back around 2010 was way different and way more of a mix of different views. I feel like a lot of what they did in all the bannings abandoned a lot of their core principals (the two contrasting quotes I used in the post show this) and were aimed more at being advertiser friendly. Maybe I’m wrong about this. I stopped using anything except local subreddits around the time that CEO was caught editing comments during the election, so I’m not quite sure what the current state of things are.

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                                              I think if you know the right subreddits Reddit is better than ever. It has a larger and more diverse group of people than ever before. Discover-ability is still an issue. There is still plenty of the website that is not advertiser friendly.

                                              Reddit still has many issues. Mods are still largely unaccountable. The leadership is still fairly distant. The website hasn’t noticeably improved in years with the website on mobile being downright hostile. That many people rely on RES is an issue. But lacking in edgy opinions just doesn’t seem to be a real problem.

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                                            Even the title of this article is problematic, by the same notion that @colonelpanic and others have raised. Asking what went wrong with Voat is a tacit admission that Voat could’ve gone right, which to my eyes is tantamount to saying there’s nothing wrong with creating a safe haven explicitly for Nazis, racists, and other vile subcultures. To treat Voat as a case of product management gone wrong is to claim that such a site would be fine if it had been under different management / marketed differently / whatever. Let’s recognize neofascist tactics for what they are: bad faith and manipulation.

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                                              Asking what went wrong with Voat is a tacit admission that Voat could’ve gone right, which to my eyes is tantamount to saying there’s nothing wrong with creating a safe haven explicitly for Nazis, racists, and other vile subcultures.

                                              I don’t think it was explicitly a safe haven for such people. I remember it as being a Free Speech safe haven, which is not the same thing. Yes, we all know what eventually happens to unmoderated places, but if you’re specifically talking about the intent behind Voat, I think you’ve got the history wrong.

                                              (And no, I don’t think it could have gone right either. But I don’t think a difference of opinion on this is such a horrible thing.)

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                                                As a wise man once wrote:

                                                The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.

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                                              I remember Voat being a thing before all of the Nazis and so forth moved over to it, so I think it’s inaccurate to say it was created for those purposes. I haven’t actually visited the site since I heard that it was being taken over by them, so I won’t comment on the state of it now, either.

                                              I think the idea of free speech is great, but in a case like this, why would anyone who is not saying something extreme want to go to that platform? You know you’re going to get bombarded by trolls and ridiculous attacks just by visiting it. Lobsters has a good philosophy of being invite-only. It’s something other link aggregator and social sites should look into if they want to have a solid community.

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                                                Is there even a way that public link aggregators can keep a level of health and community? All public link aggregators I know of are either young, crazy or deal. Certain subreddits can have tightly defined topics that keep a level of decency, but then there are all the drama subreddits, with banning for posting in another subreddit, spiting because of moderators, shadow banning, one-sided up and downvoting, etc. I used to really like the concept, but except for this site (and my clone ;^)) I don’t have much interest in this format any more.

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                                                  You need strong and clear community standards and a good moderator team to enforce them. You can have technology or fancy process but that should all be in service of allowing your mod team to do their jobs more effectively.

                                                  None of these problems are new. Anil Dash has an article on it.

                                                  Clay Shirky and others have been writing this stuff for decades

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                                                    I think Lobsters is onto something with its invitation-only setup. I will never invite someone I know is a troll or who I don’t think can have a productive conversation.

                                                    If that starts to break, the invitation system could perhaps be taken a step further: turn it into more of a web of trust such that if you invite me and I act like a complete ass, it hurts your reputation on the site as well as mine. Maybe even give you the power to rescind your invitation or put me on probation if I’ve gotten too many complaints, though that obviously gets tricky fast.

                                                    Clearly, personal accountability is not working well enough to prevent online discussions from degenerating into cesspits, but in the grand tradition of making the entire squad run extra laps if one soldier shows up visibly hung over, maybe putting people on the line for each other’s behavior would help things self-correct.

                                                    That said, I think it is an impossible problem once you get to a certain percentage of users who want to be in a toxic online environment. At a certain critical mass, toxicity becomes the social norm and any tools you build to help users enforce social norms will be used to increase, rather than prevent, toxicity.

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                                                      In the last days I got fascinated by textboards, forums where posts are not associated with any identity (not even pseudonymous). This seems to be the general argument for them.

                                                      Subjectively, the post quality is not worse than in other forums. So does account registration really solve anything or does it just raise the barrier unnecessarily? I’m not sure anymore. Maybe it depends on the purpose of a site but it is not at all clear where to draw the line.