Moderators of one of Australia’s biggest online communities banned users posting a video from Australian YouTuber Friendlyjordies, claiming that his fans are co-ordinating to promote his videos using fake accounts.
On Wednesday, members of the r/Australia subreddit noticed that their submissions of a video posted today by the YouTuber were being deleted and, in some cases, receiving bans for it.
Freelance journalist and researcher James Cutler posted screenshots of accounts being banned from the 560,000-strong community on Twitter.
In interests of objectivity, it is bizarre that moderators of the subreddit r/Australia are disabling posts containing the most recent video from @friendlyjordies (which alleges National Party corruption) and reportedly banning users who post the video from the subreddit. #auspol pic.twitter.com/8KAXDHDrII
— James Cutler (@t_cutlet) October 21, 2020
“It is bizarre that moderators of the subreddit r/Australia are disabling posts containing the most recent video from @friendlyjordies (which alleges National Party corruption) and reportedly banning users who post the video from the subreddit,” he tweeted.
Other people posted in subreddits like Friendlyjordies and SubredditDrama that they had been banned for posting questions about the ban, or even commenting about it. One user even claims they had 3 accounts banned for posting.
In a post made later in the afternoon, r/Australia moderator dredd claims they had acted in response to members of the “private Facebook group ‘CSB'” — which is a Facebook group set up by Friendlyjordies with more than 11,000 members — were “brigading” the community.
Brigading is when users co-ordinate online to harrass others like posting a video or commenting en masse.
“CSB have been brigading the sub for some time; using socks to evade bans – promote videos and drum up a lynch mob whenever a video was removed because the submitter had no active history in the sub,” they wrote.
dredd alleges the accounts which submitted the video or made abusive comments or posts were being banned and pointed those “genuine active redditor[s]” to the FAQ. According to the document, people can appeal a ban after thirty days if they’ve been active for more than two months.
Neither dredd or any other r/Australia moderators have posted proof of their claims. In a later post, dredd declined to provide proof, claiming it would reveal people’s identity.
Analysis using Reddit tool notabug.io reveals that the video has been posted, and deleted, dozens of times to the sub-reddit this afternoon.
While Common Sense Brigade members do regularly co-ordinate commenting, posting memes and linking content across social media including Reddit, the only posts specifically about r/Australia and Friendlyjordies’ latest video currently visible are about the bans.
Traditionally, r/Australia has been a significant source of traffic for Friendlyjordies. His videos are often posted and voted to the top of the subreddit by its members.
A single post of the video was originally left with a single comment from dredd explaining the ban. The post’s comments have now been opened to all users again.
In response to a Twitter DM about r/Australia’s decision, someone on behalf of the Friendlyjordies Twitter account told Gizmodo that they weren’t sure why users were being banned for sharing the video.
“I understand it would be annoying if it keeps getting spammed, but there has been no directive from FJ in the CSB to spam the video on reddit (that would be counterproductive). If they are sick of people spamming they should be transparent about it and at least tell people why they are being banned. Surely the r/Aus mods should keep at least one post of the video up, as it is in the public interest for people to see it.” they wrote.
Once told that a single post of the video remained, the person messaging on behalf of Friendlyjordies said:
“Oh ahaha yeah well the mods are probs ok then if they’re getting spammed,” they said.
dredd has been contacted for comment.
Updated with additional information 22/10