Trump's Biggest Meme Factory Headed For Closure
One thing that should give us all a little hope for November is that, believe it or not, a lot of the things that were in place that helped Trump in 2016 are no longer really things. Breitbart, for example, isn't really all that influential anymore, Alex Jones has been more or less pushed off the regular internet, the Daily Stormer has been relegated to the dark web and Roger Stone has been sentenced to prison.
Also, late last week, Reddit deposed several of the moderators of the pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald, the largest pro-Trump forum on the site and the initial source of some of the most popular pro-Trump memes and bizarre conspiracy theories.
The_Donald was already quarantined last year after a bunch of posters made threats to police officers and state officials during that whole kerfuffle in Oregon when Republican legislators ran away in order to prevent a vote on a cap and trade system to reduce carbon emissions, because of how much they love murdering the environment. Reddit is now accepting applications for new moderators who would have to be approved by the powers that be over there, and users are not happy.
What the quarantine means is that content from The_Donald doesn't get pushed to Reddit's front page when it gets a ton of upvotes (a strategy heavily used to promote pro-Trump propaganda in 2016) and that when a user tries to go to see the forum, they get a little note informing them that the forum is "restricted due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of Reddit's rules against violence and other aspects of the Content Policy" and asking them if they are sure they want to proceed — a thing you should probably only do if it's your job or you're actually a Trumpist. Because let me tell you, it is extremely depressing. Also racist. And transphobic. It's just really bad all around, frankly.
However, even after being quarantined, even after being repeatedly warned by Reddit admins, the site's users and mod team kept submitting, approving, upvoting, and stickying posts that violated the site's content policy. Thus, on Thursday, they got this note tacked to the top of the forum.
We recently removed a number of mods from r/the_donald that were approving, stickying, and generally supporting content in this subreddit that breaks our content policy. We recognize that the remaining mod team will need additional help moderating, so we're here today to help them recruit new moderators. We'll be vetting applications according to the qualifications below, and providing the approved list to the current mods, who will choose which of the approved applicants they want to add to the team.
To qualify, you must:
Be in good standing with our Safety team (e.g. no account suspensions in past year)
Have at least 1000 total karma
Have at least 500 karma in the_donald
Not have more than 500 karma in quarantined subreddits (aside from the_donald) or subreddits banned for rule violations (not including communities banned for being unmodded)
Have at least 1 month experience moderating a subreddit in good standing
Not be an alt of any ineligible accounts
As you can imagine, this has not gone over well among Trump supporters, especially members of The_Donald, who expressed their horror that Reddit would claim their content violated its content policy by posting some pretty racist bullshit.
Some users on the site are going so far as to claim that this "coup" of their forum is tantamount to election meddling, on account of how they are the largest pro-Trump forum on Reddit and known for producing many memes. They're not actually funny or anything, but they do exist, and unfunny Trump supporters do seem to like them. They get very, very jazzed about their terrible memes.
Ironically, however, the subreddit has recently come under fire for actual election meddling: encouraging conservative voters to go out and meddle in the primary elections — a very stupid plan that they and 4chan are calling "Operation Chaos."
Via Mother Jones:
"I'm voting Bloomberg in the dem primaries. I think all republicans should vote in them for the weakest or most moderate D candidate," a poster wrote in 4chan's /pol/ board, the site's politics focused board that has long been a nest of alt-right trolling. "My state has an open primary, so I will vote for Yang just to fuck with the DNC," another wrote prior to Andrew Yang dropping out of the race.
Other boards on 4chan have encouraged people to vote for Sanders, reasoning that he is the candidate most likely to bring about a collapse of the United States' current order and political systems. (Other users have accused anonymous posters advocating for this accelerationist approach as disingenuous pro-Bernie shills.) Some have encouraged voting for weaker performing candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg to help sustain their campaigns and drag out the competitive primary season.
As Mother Jones's Ali Breland points out, this tactic has been tried before — most notably by Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008 — but has never had any actual effect on elections, largely because people barely get it together to go and vote for candidates they do like. The main effect it does have, however, is that Democrats start freaking out, claiming that everyone voting against their chosen candidate is a right-wing troll and opposing open primaries — which, I suppose, is a kind of chaos.
As much as the forum's users would like to claim this is a freedom of speech issue, it's not. Because Reddit is not the government and practically every site on earth has some kind of content or commenting policy. Even 4chan. Most notably, they banned all discussion of Gamergate in 2014. In fact, The_Donald itself has a content policy, and only allows comments from "Trump Supporters Only. No Cucks or Leftists." The admins at Reddit have every right to have their own and to require subreddits to abide by it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse