Drudge Report, Infowars on political blacklist

Steve Watson
Nov 5, 2013

Alternative news sites have been up in arms over the fact that some moderators at the popular social media news gathering site Reddit have banned users from posting content from almost all alternative media sources, including The Drudge Report and Infowars.com.

The political moderators issued a list of media sources with “custom flair”, ie ones it approves of, as well as a banned list. Users have reacted with anger that the approved list contains purely mainstream news sources such as The BBC, CNN, AP and The New York Times.

The banned list, meanwhile contains practically every major alternative news source you can think of, including The Drudge Report, breitbart.com, Infowars.com, Prisonplanet.com, The Daily Caller, World Net Daily, Salon, The Blaze, Vice.com and Mother Jones.

Reddit’s politics moderators have not discriminated between political paradigms either, with large left leaning sites such as Huffington Post, Raw Story, dailykos.com, Think Progress, and even Media Matters all appearing on the blacklist, in addition to conservative websites.

Interestingly, while MSNBC appears on the approved list, Fox News appears on the banned list.

The moderators claim that the change in policy is “to reduce the number of blogspam submissions and sensationalist titles” as well as “low quality posts.”

In other words, anything written by grassroots journalists or bloggers is considered of a much lesser quality to these Reddit moderators than content from mainstream media sources. Indeed, they consider such content to be spam.

“The domain provides lots of bad journalism to the sub.” Reddit moderators say of all the banned websites. “Bad journalism most regularly happens when the verification of claims made by a particular article is almost impossible. Bad journalism, especially when not critically evaluated, leads to lots of circlejerking.” the moderators claim.

Reddit functions by registered users (or “redditors”) submitting content in the form of either a link or a text (“self”) post. Other users then vote the submission “up” or “down”, which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s sub-pages and front page. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called “subreddits”.

Volunteer moderators then manage the discussions for each subreddit.

While the Daily Caller, Daily Kos and other sites on the banned list have penned angry response pieces, It appears that although the moderators for the politics subreddit have initiated this ban, it does not extend to the entirety of Reddit and has not been in any way officially approved by Reddit, Inc.

Kevin Morris at The Daily Dot explains that some bloggers and journalists are misunderstanding how Reddit works, and that being “blacklisted” in the politics subreddit does not prevent articles from appearing on the main Reddit pages, which receive the vast majority of the site’s web traffic.

The main website has millions of visitors, with 6% of all adults on the internet, and 15% of all males aged 18-29 regularly using the website. The site has some 3,114,397 regular followers. A story can easily be sent viral by Reddit views, with top ranking articles sometimes receiving tens of thousands of upvotes. The politics subreddit, on the other hand, does not really drive a great deal of traffic, as Morris explains, it is no longer a default subreddit and its posts no longer show up on the default Reddit homepage regardless of any blacklist.

Meanwhile, the supposed “banned” websites have still been appearing regularly on the Reddit homepage:

All of this does not make the “ban” by the rogue moderators acceptable, however.

Rather bizarrely, the banned list even lists Reddit.com as a source, meaning that the moderators in the politics subreddit have essentially banned Reddit itself. This indicates a determining factor of ignorance is at play, rather than one of logic when it comes to whose content is banned. In addition, moderators have previously been caught censoring political stories. RT.com now appears on it’s “approved” sources list, but has been regularly censored, indicating that the moderators are acting on their own personal whims.

While it may not be as significant as some are making out, the announcement of censorship in the politics subreddit has angered many users of the website who say that it is antithetical to Reddit’s supposed core value of providing access to information and promoting open dialogue on subjects.

The rogue moderators are filtering out information pertaining to political events based on their own views of what is quality reporting and what is or isn’t “sensationalised” reporting. They are also making an open admission that they see mainstream corporate owned news as trustworthy, a staggeringly archaic notion that the majority of people simply do not share.

In addition, websites such as Infowars and The Drudge Report, as well as many others on the blacklist are, whether the moderators like it or not, now drivers of news cycles. That is, a story can and does regularly go viral after the alternative media breaks it, prompting mainstream sources to then report on it. The websites, particularly Drudge, also serve as news aggregators, providing links to mainstream sources, and often driving huge amounts of traffic to otherwise undiscovered content. They also dwarf many mainstream news websites in terms of traffic and page views, clearly indicating that internet users are seeking alternative sources of information.

The alternative media is also doing the job that the mainstream media is refusing to do or is incapable of doing anymore, that is keeping private and public entities in check. The White House, government agencies and the DoD have all recently taken side swipes at The Drudge Report and the fact that, because of citizen journalists, social media and other online platforms reporting news in real time, it is less able to control the tone and output of news content.

By outlawing content from the alternative media, these Reddit moderators are simply condemning their subreddit to the dustbin of irrelevance. After all, who needs a social network that only feeds its users mainstream information they can read in a newspaper or hear about on cable news TV?

As an internet news entity, Reddit should be embracing an alternative media which has used the internet to evolve and become the driving force of news and the free flow of information in the world today. If the website allows more moderators to censor content, the site will slowly wither away and die, as users continue to seek out uncensored and unfiltered information. In short, these rogue moderators are the ones who should be banned from appearing on Reddit.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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