How has Trump’s popularity been affected since his eponymous Reddit group has been quarantined?
Can Reddit sway an election?
When Trump was rising to prominence before the 2016 election, Reddit changed their algorithms to stave off the quickly rising tide of Nationalism.
Attn. (Aron Macarow): Reddit Attempts to Stop the Trump Meme Brigade (2016 June 20)
Reddit announced Monday that the site is changing the algorithm responsible for the r/all feed, which shows the most popular content across all of the site’s subreddits. The aim? To stop some communities from promoting large numbers of their own posts, thereby taking over what Reddit calls the “front page of the internet.”
They make it sound like a conspiracy to take over Reddit.
What this means in practice is that repeated posts from the same community that make it into the r/all feed will make it less likely that future posts from that specific community will appear on the Reddit front page. This is by design: The hope is that it will keep small groups of the service’s users from taking over the site’s overall conversations, as happened in the wake of the Orlando massacre on June 12.
If posts from “small groups” landed in the main feed, I doubt that they were really as small as they claim.
“We have seen many communities like r/the_donald over the years: ones attempting to dominate the conversation on Reddit at the expense of everyone else. This undermines Reddit, and we’re not going to allow it,” Huffman said in a town hall post on Reddit Thursday.
Were conservative groups like The_Donald really attempting to dominate the feed? Or were they just that popular?
The change holds the promise of preventing any one subreddit from dominating the main page of the site. Still, troubling content continues to make its way onto the r/all feed. The most recent problem occurred Tuesday, when a post from the r/the_donald subreddit received more than 8,200 upvotes in two hours, catapulting it into the r/all feed.
The post featured four swastikas and the note, “Don’t mind me, just taking my admins for a walk” — which many felt was a taunt directed at the platform for the recent algorithm switch. (“Cucked” has also entered the far right lexicon as a term to demean conservatives who are traitors to their conservative base.)
This is hilarious! It’s almost as funny as when Microsoft’s AI bot, Tay, went off the deep end with racist and sexually charged statements it had learned from public chat forums.
The way I see it, Reddit’s real problem is that they have somehow attracted a subset of the population who hold views that are disagreeable or embarrassing to them, or who are making them out to be “cucked”. (Lord forbid!) Predictably, they don’t want to be associated with these members for reasons that are, effectively, politically correct.
But this raises a few questions.
- Is it censorship?
- If so, is this censorship morally warranted, or merely politically biased?
- Does Reddit have an ulterior motive to dampen or dissipate any grassroots support for Trump?
In March, Brett Stevens at Amerika drew my attention to what amounted to a censorship crackdown on Reddit that happened in February. It’s been two months since this happened, and I think now is the time to assess the real damage done.
Just to fill in the reader, here are a few passages from Amerika and Reddit on the issue.
Amerika (Brett Stevens): Reddit Drives Away Thriving Pro-Trump Community (2020-3-1)
“Silicon Valley continues to navigate through a loophole in American law: as private industry, it has no obligation to support free speech, but has also been given a legal carve-out removing liability for things that its users have posted under the Communications Decency Act § 230.”
“Since our Establishment™ went Leftist after WW2, the new insurgents, rebels, and outsider thinkers are conservatives or at least realists; they are those not in love with “equality” as the singular goal and principle of civilization.
Social media has responded to these as if they were toxic, since their presence disturbs those who are repeating the past by clicking on the same old stuff dressed up as the “new,” because that which is actually different reveals how much the same old thing is, well, old and tired.”
Amerika linked to the following post at Reddit/The-Donald, and an archive is here.
“First they changed upvote algorithms to keep us from reaching the masses.
Next, they outright censored us from /all.
Then, they quarantined us, to make it difficult to even see our words, much less spread them.
Then, one by one, they added new rules to stifle what would could even say behind the quarantine. Users were sitewide banned, automod size increased to prevent you from speaking freely.
Still not enough, they decided to start banning us for even liking content we see, things we didn’t personally even create. Wrongthink.
Now, they’ve removed half of our mods, and will be installing their own.
Reddit never wanted to remove The_Donald, but they have wanted to kill us. Not by shutting us down, but by starving us out. Censoring our good content, making it less interesting, making you fear what you can post, or even upvote. It makes less negative press for them to slowly kill us off and replace us than to outright ban us.
Reddit is dead. The_Donald is dead.
We knew this was coming, and we created a lifeboat. A place to bring back the old The_Donald, before they began their Chinese censorship. A place free of Reddit communists.”
First of all, I am not very active on Reddit, and I’m not a follower of The_Donald.
Secondly, I do think the members of this sub have been given a raw deal with the way the publication and readership of their group has been dampened through the above methods. That’s just wrong.
However, it seems to me that this Reddit post has been dramatically overstated. Since this post went up on Reddit (2020 February 25), Trump’s popularity has not been significantly affected.
Trump’s response to the Corona virus has had mixed reactions. I see a lot less attention being given to Trump on the news and other MGM, but overall, I don’t see any mass attrition away from Trump’s following.
Although it’s a shame, I don’t see how dampening or shutting down a Reddit sub is going to sway the election. It hasn’t even offered a speed bump to the meme warfare.
Furthermore, if Gl0balist powers think they can derail an election by censoring or shutting down a few internet forums, they’re just playing in the sandbox.
For the most part, people have already made up their minds, and have decided how they’re going to vote. There are some minority groups who are slowly changing sides (i.e. blacks and hispanics), but they tend to be migrating towards Trump.
In conclusion, I don’t see how Biden can beat Trump in 2020, unless there is a massive criminal element of voting fraud, or something unthinkable happens (like an assassination or a secession).
- Σ Frame: Trump Appeals to Dignity, Not Racism (2016-3-7)