Amelia Tait, writing in the New Statesman, says,
Reddit’s CEO edited comments on a pro-Trump thread and everyone should care
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has publicly admitted to editing comments on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald in a move he has described as “trolling the trolls”. Huffman – who goes by “spez” on Reddit – deleted comments from the pro-Trump community on the site, and also altered comments that insulted him. He replaced comments reading “fuck u/spez” with those of the users who moderate the thread. This meant the criticism directed towards him appeared to be attacking the thread’s own moderators.
Yet although this might seem like a small and temporary lapse in judgement, the implications are huge.
Normally when a comment is edited on Reddit – by a user or a moderator – a small asterisk will appear after the time stamp to indicate that it has been changed. In this instance, no such asterisk appeared, meaning Huffman ostensibly has the ability to edit comments without a trace. This is crucial because two months ago, a Redditor was taken to court for comments he left on the site. Huffman’s editing powers could clearly be abused to cause trouble for individuals.
Beyond this, however, Huffman chose the wrong Reddit community to anger. Those on r/the_donald are already deeply convinced by conspiracies, and, in a way, Huffman has now validated their claims.
I first came across r/the_donald when news was breaking of the terrorist massacre of 49 people attending a gay nightclub in Orlando carried out on behalf of Islamic State by Omar Mateen. I say “news was breaking”, but it was not breaking at r/news. As one Reddit user said, “They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting”. Another said, “You know whats crazy? I live in Orlando and I had no idea this was going on. I depend on reddit for my news 100% since it can rapidly deliver news from many sources that I can validate or discard. I have literally been up all night on Reddit and due to the apparent thread lockings and deletions, this story took 9 hours to make it to me — I probably live within thirty minutes of this place.” Yet another said, “This situation has been unfolding for hours, it’s the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the only evidence of it on the front page is stuff from /r/the_donald?”
The talk is all of “fake news” at the moment, with a presumption that the fakery is coming from the right. But many of those Americans who saw with their own eyes the main Reddit news page attempting to play down a major news story while the Donald Trump subreddit reported it freely will have concluded that those Trump guys were telling the truth and the other guys were fakers – and who can blame them? Some of them will have switched from r/news to r/the_donald as their first news source and will have gone on to vote for Trump as a result. It is always fun to watch the “Nice job breaking it, hero” trope play out in real life, but r/the_Donald is not itself a good news source. The comments that Huffman altered were the usual conspiracy rubbish that is thrown at any politician these days. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is running a paedophile ring for the same reason that I never believed that Ted Heath was. Apart from anything else, major political figures are too closely watched. Steve Huffman had the right and was right to ban the “Pizzagate” subreddit, which made claims absurd even by the standards typical of such things and had caused real harm to innocent people. As ever, the believers in the conspiracy took any opposition to their theories as PROOOOF that the opposer was in on it too. Mr Huffman would have been completely within his rights and acting in the interests of his company to have banned the people who were libelling him. Instead he chose to play games with his own site’s credibility. A few weeks ago I would have dismissed the idea that the Reddit CEO would personally hack the accounts of his own customers on the r/the_donald subreddit as yet more conspirazoid rubbish. As Amelia Tait said, Huffman has now validated their claim to be persecuted. He has also validated their claim to be important.
A chap called Ricky Vaughn posted this to Gab:
No Reagan or Thatcher. No Paul Joseph Watson or Stefan Molyneux either.
“Ah, it’s a homage to The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. How clever.” I thought.
“Let’s see who’s here.”
“Well there’s Nige, Ron Paul, Pepe (of course), Ann Coulter, Milo, Harambe (heh!), Joseph McCarthy, Scott Adams. All good or good-ish stuff. Well maybe not Pepe. Or Harambe.”
“Who’s that skulking in the shadows?”
“Oh shit, it’s that Norwegian mass murderer!”
“And hang about that’s Gaddafi!”
By my count it’s 4 tyrants, 1 fascist leader, 2 mass murderers and 1 serial killer. And that’s the ones I recognise.
The disturbing thing is that this image may well be accurate. These people represent the intellectual (stop sniggering. Seriously, stop sniggering) underpinnings of the Trump presidency. Obviously, there are serious differences which will probably lead to serious subsidence.
But there are things that unite them. With the exception of Farage, I cannot think of any who would have been on the right side of history in 1939. Which is remarkable. Even Neville Chamberlain got that one right.
They are also united by a loathing of the establishment. Which I loathe too. The UN, the EU, the welfare state, crony capitalism, fiat money, political correctness, climate alarmism, regulation after regulation after regulation: they’ve all got to go. But in all of that happening all sorts of other things may happen. One can only hope those things are nearer the Farage than Mosley end of the spectrum.
In his comments over the past week, Obama has sounded some of the same themes we discussed back in 2013. He told Remnick: “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us.” The 2009 revelations from the East Anglia emails that scientists had manipulated data and abused the peer-review process? Down the memory hole.
Remnick himself described the Obama presidency as “two terms long on dignity and short on scandal.” The IRS? The State Department scandal that arguably sank Mrs. Clinton’s campaign? Again, the memory hole.
In Lima on Sunday the president himself declared: “I am extremely proud of the fact that over eight years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations.” That’s either delusional or very carefully worded: To our knowledge no other administration has used the IRS to punish ordinary citizens for dissent, nor faced FBI findings that the secretary of state treated classified information in an “extremely careless” fashion.
– James Taranto
Certain words are losing all meaning. Over at Slate Star Codex, where the author is far from a fan of Trump, is a very thoughtful analysis with evidence about why cries of all the various -isms and -emacists are a load of nonsense. We know all this, but this is a good source of dialectic rather than rhetorical argument.
Caring about who the alt-right supports is a lot like caring about who Satanists support. It’s not something you would do if you wanted to understand real political forces. It’s only something you would do if you want to connect an opposing candidate to the most outrageous caricature of evil you can find on short notice.
Okay, I am picking the most rhetorical sounding parts, but it is all backed with evidence in the article.
Dog whistling seems to be the theory that if you want to know what someone really believes, you have to throw away decades of consistent statements supporting the side of an issue that everyone else in the world supports, and instead pay attention only to one weird out-of-character non-statement which implies he supports a totally taboo position which is perhaps literally the most unpopular thing it is possible to think.
And then you have to imagine some of the most brilliant rhetoricians and persuaders in the world are calculating that it’s worth risking exposure this taboo belief in order to win support from a tiny group with five-digit membership whose support nobody wants, by sending a secret message, which inevitably every single media outlet in the world instantly picks up on and makes the focus of all their coverage for the rest of the election.
Here’s another good bit:
Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.
What a tasteless joke.
As noted elsewhere, the people here that are getting the vapors and seeing this election as a modern day Reichstag fire are the same people who spent the last 8 years weaponizing government. They have seen what happens to Christian bakers and pizza places who show badthink. They don’t want the tables turned and their angry and afraid.
– Commenter Duffy over on White Sun of the Desert.
In 1992 Democrats won the men’s vote, and finished only 2 points behind with white voters. Support from both groups has plummeted since. Male voters and white voters have been hearing from Democrats how sexist and racist they are for 20+ years now — what did you expect would happen?
She knew what she was selling, and so did the American public. This was 100% an own goal: Hillary chose to run a far left “SJW” campaign pandering to Black Lives Matter, illegal aliens, and the most corrosive feminists & GLBT activists she could find. She gave white Americans and men the finger, and both groups responded in kind.
– Neil Edmondson
I am not rowing back on my dislike and distrust of Trump for a host or reasons. (To give just one, when he spoke about his desire to spend big on infrastructure in his acceptance speech, I fear the worst about the direction of public spending. Let’s hope he is bluffing and will have to face some hard financial realities.) However, even a small-government conservative/libertarian such as I, who thinks most government actions can be performed from the back of a truck or from an insurance office, enjoys the discomfiture of the Left at his victory, and the defeat of Clinton. The worries about what a Trump administration can do can wait a few days. Let’s wait until Monday.
Here is Rod Liddle in the Spectator:
The deplorables are rather wonderful people, aren’t they? Both here and in the United States. The people’s revolution continues apace, defying the odds each time, defying the pollsters, defying the elite. I cannot tell you how pleasurable it was to scamper downstairs on Wednesday morning to check out the reaction on the Guardian’s website. It kept me cackling for hours. The previous morning the paper had concluded its fatuous leader column with the words: ‘Americans should summon a special level of seriousness and display a profound responsibility when they go to the polls.’ That alone had made me yearn for a Trump victory — the arrogant, chastising tone which liberals, especially European liberals, always adopt when dealing with commoners and plebs, the people who do not buy into their palpably failing and idiotic worldview.
So yes, let’s bask in this. But like I said, enjoyment will be limited, not least because I worry that people such as Liddle are so keen on Trump. Consider, Liddle holds socialist or “Blue Labour” views on economics. He likes big public spending, taxing rich people, economic protectionism, and stopping immigrants from taking “our jobs”, as he has written in the past (he subscribes to the lump of labour fallacy, as far as I can tell). Mixing Big government, a form of socialism and nationalism is not a brew I want to drink at any time of the day. He is only libertarian in the sense, as far as I can see, that he thinks it means being naughty and offensive and forgets the economics bit – all Saturday Night Live and no Milton Friedman.
Of course, I know quite a few small-govt. types who are hoping that the GOP-controlled Congress will, despite owing Trump a favour for his victory, will resist some of the more outlandish attempts to hike spending, bash cheap imports, etc. Once again we will read from the “liberal” (in the American perversion of that word) commentariat about the need for checks and balances on the Presidency (funny, that); such calls went quiet during the Obama years when the Lightbringer was firing off his executive orders and zapping people in drone strikes. Maybe Trump will pleasantly surprise us – let’s hope so. In fact, expectations perhaps have been so low that his ability to surprise on the upside could be quite big. He is known to be able to turn on the charm and let’s face it, his ability to keep going during this campaign, despite some setbacks (partly self-inflicted) shows a certain bullish grit.
Richard Epstein’s essay at the Hoover Institute on the election is a must-read.
Gene Healy’s exploration of the “imperial” presidency, published by CATO a few years ago, is also good.
I have watched this play out on campus after campus. I have watched dissident student groups invite Milo Yiannopoulos to speak — not because they particularly agree with his views, but because he denounces censorship and undermines political correctness. I have watched students cheer his theatrics, his insulting behavior, and his narcissism solely because the enforcers of campus goodthink are outraged by it. It’s not about his ideas, or policies. It’s not even about him. It’s about vengeance for social oppression.
Trump has done to America what Yiannopoulos did to campus. This is a view Yiannopoulos shares. When I spoke with him about Trump’s success months ago, he told me, “Nobody votes for Trump or likes Trump on the basis of policy positions. That’s a misunderstanding of what the Trump phenomenon is.”
He described Trump as “an icon of irreverent resistance to political correctness.” Correctly, I might add.
– Robby Soave
And as I said above, if he can send the Clintons to jail that will be extremely beneficial for the country. Not out of any malice to the Clintons (well deserved though it might be) but simply as a marker to say “corruption in politics has at least an outside chance of ending you in the big house.” I think that would send shivers through the political establishment and make them a little less careless and a little less greedy as they milk the public for their own self enrichment.
But I could be entirely wrong. And he might also fire a nuclear weapon at Paris if a Hollande statement is carelessly translated to suggest his penis is of inadequate length. It is a dice roll.
– Samizdata commenter Fraser Orr
Well I certainly hope against hope that I am completely wrong about Trump (yeah I know, the notion I might be wrong is almost unimaginable!) but at the very least it is going to be hilarious to behold the Niagara-like cascade of tears from
Shelob’s Hillary’s true believers 😆
It will be interesting to see what kind of score settling happens as Trump is said to be a rather vindictive chap. Pass the popcorn.
Well, here I am sitting at my desk, with a telly on it and a computer screen on it, at stupid o’clock in the morning. I’m following the internet version of events here. When I started out following this, Clinton was reckoned to be 75 percent likely to win. Now they’re saying the same about Donald Trump. But since the first figure proved so fallible, why would I trust the second figure either? What is going to happen?
A few thoughts for our commentariat – including many who have actual experience of being in the USA, as I have not – to chew over, or not, as they please.
On Brit TV, a sensible blond woman (British) is talking about Obamacare and what a train wreck it has been. I suspect a lot of Brits are hearing this kind of thing for the first time. She also talked about education, another minus for Hillary, it would seem. And another Brit – middle aged, comb-over – has talked about Hillary’s use of politics to enrich herself on a grand scale. Again, how often has this been talked about on Brit TV?
So, simply in terms of their ability to report the campaign and its nature, the British media failed as comprehensively as the Clinton-supporting media look like they’re failing.
Related point: I suspect that Trump’s use of the social media is going to be talked about a lot in the next few weeks and months. Trump is being described as a political novice. But he sure as hell isn’t a media novice. He understands television. He understands how to get attention.
Now, finally, someone is telling Britain that Hillary Clinton is too “robotic”, not “warm”. They couldn’t “humanise” her. Trump was able to exploit this. Now they tell us.
About Trump. For the last year and however long it’s been, almost everyone has been underestimating Trump, and they were underestimating him still, only a few hours ago. And now, it is being said, by people on both sides, that Trump will be a ghastly President. He will be, if he just sticks to shrieking the things he shrieked at the beginning of his campaign, to get the attention of the kind of voters who hate all the damn politicians, definitely including those Republican grandees whom Trump has rolled all over, up to and including doing much better in the Presidential election. But what if people are still underestimating him? What if he is actually a quite good President? Even to the point where he starts making sensible noises about the size of the nation’s debt? What if he actually gets that you can’t just legislate manufacturing jobs back into existence? What if he turns out to be better at handling the Russians?
The US stockmarket, we are being told, is certainly of the opinion that Trump will now be the President, but a very bad President, as in bad for American business, certain for the sort of businesses that get quoted on the stockmarket. But are they right?
I wouldn’t put it past Trump to be rather a good president, because if there is one thing that is very clear about this man, it is that he does like to be liked, and the incentives he will face, if he does get the Presidency, will now change. If he does get to be President, he will be wanting to be thought of as a great President. Well, maybe not. Maybe he will concentrate all his efforts on having his revenge on all his detractors, both Republican and Democrat, and meanwhile let the USA itself go hell. But might he not turn out rather better than that?
Or, Trump may decide that the future of America, indeed of the world, is “progressivism”, and he might turn out to be another Obama. He was, after all, a Democrat for many years, was he not?
The British lefty, on the extreme left of my TV screen, is talking about a “cataclysmic” rejection of the “progressive agenda”, as personified by President Obama. Obamacare is going to be repealed! The horror.
That Obama guy, eh? Lots of Americans seem to think that he’s an idiot, but, a likeable idiot. They carried on voting for him, while he was the candidate. But as soon as Obama himself stopped being who you had to vote for, the vote for mere Obama-ism collapsed. Well, no, not collapsed. We’re talking a few percentage points. But that is enough to change things radically. That’s democracy for you. 50.5 percent, happiness. 49.5 percent, misery.
Now, a bearded young American is saying that if Sanders – the Venezuelan candidate, so to speak – had got the Democrat nomination, he would have been more likely to have won this thing. Maybe, unlike Hillary, Sanders could have made Venezuela seem appealing. Like I say, it only takes a single figure percentage to change things.
Other Democrats have been fulminating about how racist Trump is. Well, as for that, I have been watching the political left insult white people – particularly white men – for my entire adult life, ever since the workers of the rich, white West made it clear that they preferred the affluent society (such as it has been) to revolutionary Bolshevistic self-immolation. For me, the surprise is not that the white working class has fled from the left. For me, the surprise is that it has taken them so long.
They’re now talking about Trump being 93 percent likely to win it.
Now: Nigel Farage, calling this, if it happens in accordance with the above percentage, “bigger than Brexit”. He’s not assuming it, but he is struggling to keep his grin under control.
It’s gone down to 88 percent. LATER: up to 95 percent!
Well, well, well.
This election has kept me up for so long that I am now following the start of this cricket match between England and India. The smart money says India are about 88 percent likely to win that, by a landslide. To bed, Brian, to bed. Apologies for all the typos and grammatical cock-ups. I may need to clean this up in the morning.
I now see that, with admirable brevity, Natalie Solent has said the very same thing that I have been rambling on about at such tedious length. Oh well. Repetition is allowed here. ?!? Indeed.