If you think Reddit should do a better job of moderating the spread of COVID misinformation on the platform, you’re not alone. But it turns out CEO Steve Huffman doesn’t agree and has asserted the company will continue to do what it has been doing all along (spoiler alert: not much, really).
As we know all too well in 2021, some parts of Reddit can be amazing, inclusive communities that foster great friendships and collaboration, while other corners of the site can be an absolute cess pit.
But in a thread titled Debate, dissent and protest on Reddit, Huffman gave us a solid answer on what exactly Reddit’s policy is when it comes to the spread of misinformation, and what we can expect moving forward.
“Dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy. Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate,” Huffman said in a thread that is locked, preventing Reddit users from replying to him directly. “This includes conversations that question or disagree with popular consensus. This includes conversations that criticize those that disagree with the majority opinion. This includes protests that criticize or object toour decisions on which communities to ban from the platform.”
Despite this, Reddit is actively promoting factual information.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have also provided COVID-related resources to support our volunteer moderators, users, and communities, including a dedicated AMA series connecting users with authoritative experts on coronavirus and vaccines, as well as deploying homepage and search page banners directing users to the CDC and r/Coronavirus.”
Although Huffman didn’t directly reference any particular incidents, and was speaking about the issue more broadly, the news comes after the r/vaxxhappened subreddit called upon the platform to do more about medical misinformation.
“We could have been better off months ago, but disinformation and lies have been allowed to spread readily through inaction and malice, and have dragged this on at the cost of lives,” the post says. “There can be no room for leniency when people are dying as a result of misinformation on this platform. Reddit as a global platform needs to take responsibility here.”
There’s a very fine line between respecting peoples right to share their opinions online and doing your part, as a major social networking platform like Reddit, to minimise the spread of harmful medical misinformation.
Is Reddit simply respecting everyone’s right to opinion? Or is it not doing enough to ensure accurate health and medical information is being shared amid a pandemic that is killing thousands of people?