After the terror attacks in Orlando, Reddit users seeking details about the shooting instead found a blanket ban on mentioning the shooter’s religion on the site’s primary news subreddit.
Claiming “censorship” and citing “PC” culture, a record number of Reddit users unsubscribed from one of the site’s largest communities and joined r/The_Donald instead, the largest subreddit for Donald Trump supporters on the site.
A total of 11,712 Reddit users joined the Trump subreddit on Sunday alone, becoming one of the 300 largest communities on the site. That more than doubles the subreddit’s previous biggest gain on February 24th, when the community took on 5,664 new users. Hillary Clinton’s primary subreddit growth remained about even, adding 158 followers to its 17,815-person group.
The exodus from Reddit’s main news subreddit, r/news, was even more stark. The site lost a record 78,836 subscribers on Sunday alone. Over 65,000 of them joined a previously dormant subreddit, r/uncensorednews, and immediately made it the fastest growing community on the website.
“They deleted comments that were not rule-breaking, and even comments about blood-drives. They were reckless in their moderation,” reads one petition prompt.
Users claim all references to Islam, including the word “Muslim,” were systematically deleted from the front page. Moderators said this was due, in part, to automatic filtering and an effort to cut down on “brigading”—or large swaths of specific communities like, say, r/The_Donald or r/HillaryClinton directing their partial opinions to a community claiming objectivity.
At press time, all references to Islam in the top 200 r/news posts exclusively mentioned Muslim leaders condemning the attacks, but did not reference the shooter directly.
When confronted with the allegations, one r/news moderator, SuspiciousSpecialist, told a critic to “kill yourself”. That moderator was later removed from the subreddit. When another user messaged different moderators imploring them to resign because of SuspiciousSpecialist’s threat, that user was told to “run along, cupcake.”
All Reddit moderators are unpaid.
The moderators of Reddit's most popular new community, r/uncensorednews, have since come under fire for previous hate posts ranging from anti-semitism to white supremacy. The subreddit's founding moderator was previously a moderator at a banned white supremacy subreddit, r/European, and has posted about how "women destroy nations and civilization."
Other r/uncensorednews moderators have posted racial slurs against African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. One moderator is a prominent Sandy Hook Truther, who does not believe the massacre at the Connecticut elementary school ever took place.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s subreddit has seemingly taken over the top posts on Reddit. At press time, 15 of the entire site’s top 50 stories originated in Trump’s subreddit.
One of those stories is dubbed, “HuffPo Blames Everybody BUT Radical Islam for Orlando Carnage.” The post, which links to a Breitbart story about the Huffington Post, was tagged “CUCKINGTONPOST” by an r/The_Donald moderator.
According to Pew, 47 percent of the site considers itself “liberal”.
Sixty percent of Reddit users are under the age of 34 and 74 percent of all users are men. According to a Quinnipiac poll from June 1, 60 percent of white males say they’ll vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton (26 percent) in November.