CONTENT WARNINGS: SEXUAL ASSAULT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE,
They are one of the most hated communities on Reddit and, consequently, the internet. Whenever another Reddit community is banned, users cry out talking of double standards. What’s more, they are frequently compared to these banned communitiess, such as a forum to denigrate the overweight and a hub for the alt-right. However, their only crime, and what is arguably the purpose of their community, is calling Reddit out on racism and bigotry.
ShitRedditSays, or SRS for short, is infamous on the website. The group are frequently accused of being an ‘internet cult’ in cahoots with the websites’ administrators, responsible for brigading (the prohibited act of invading another community en masse) as well as doxxing multiple individuals (an act akin to internet stalking and blackmail). However, the cause of these allegations can only really be attributed to the group’s commitment to exposing the racists, sexists and bigots of Reddit.
On entering SRS there appears to be little in the way of organised action. Instead, there are a collection of quotations taken from other areas of Reddit.
‘Most domestic violence can be traced back to a woman doing something so fucking stupid it drivers [sic] a man insane. I asked for chips from the store and my wife brought back Cheetos. That was almost the end of her [+57].’
‘Nothing says anti fascism like bludgeoning people to death to silence them [+557].’
‘Not really, only the US has this absurd idea that you should tolerate fascists. That’s how you end up with Trump [-53].’
And, of course, on the banning of a community dedicated to the alt-right…
‘I wonder if the admins will ever start holding /r/shitredditsays to the same standard?’ [+257].’
The quotes have been taken from throughout Reddit, where numbers refer to the original post’s popularity. Generally, they come from more sanitary communities on Reddit – as it’s considered far too easy to find questionable comments in certain parts of the website
The wariness of outsiders and the vitriol they bring made talking with members of SRS difficult. Posts questioning individuals’ experiences were twice removed by moderators of the community, out of fear that it was a ‘doxxing’ attempt. However, speaking to Elle, a moderator of SRS, I can understand the concern. She had to delete her first account for the very reason.
Highlighting this issue is a mass of incredibly hostile posts made to SRS by outsiders: ‘You people are the cancer of reddit,’ ‘Why are you all such assholes,’ and ‘Enough. E-fucking-nough. I’ve had it with you fucking harpies’ (yes, someone actually wrote out ‘e-fucking-nough’). Each of these are tagged with the caption ‘Laughing My Butt Off’, so SRS seem to be taking it on the chin.
After convincing Elle that I wasn’t a ‘madbro’, she opened up about her role in SRS, and SRS’ role in general. She’s been moderating SRS for around six months, but has been an active member for far longer. Previously she spent six years moderating a forum for rape victims – a place to talk about what they had been through and provide advice. Elle stated that experiences moderating the two communities were similar – both received a lot of trolling, but the forum for rape victims received comments that were “grosser” and “more violent”. I found it hard to believe that Elle was part of some cult-ish conspiracy to take down Reddit and kill free speech.
Speaking about the point of SRS, Elle stated that ‘”the purpose has always been to hold a mirror up to Reddit”. She noted that when she first joined the site there was “rampant” and “unacknowledged” misogyny and racism.
Unfortunately, little has changed. On the rape victims forum, after Elle and others petitioned the administrators to provide better care for posters, they began banning the worst offenders. Similarly, she says the Reddit administrators occasionally impose temporary bans on people for “e.g. spamming swastikas to our modmail”. Moreover, Elle laments the role Reddit has played in fostering the “alt-right”, suggesting that the website has become a hub for Stormfront (a prominent Neo-Nazi forum) recruitment. Most damningly, she alleges the managers of Reddit employed staff to trawl through “jailbait” (sexualised pictures of potential minors) to “determine which ones were real child porn”.
In response to frequent accusations made against SRS, Elle stated that whilst brigading was initially an issue, their community now discourages the behaviour and they now have a negligible effect. As for doxxing, Elle states “there was one event that was borderline – a SRS user mentioned a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) by Reddit handle and actual name on their blog” but that was the extent of it.
Despite Elle’s low opinion of Reddit, she suggests that the website could be improved – with sufficient staff, better relationships between the website’s operators and the moderators of various communities and a clear policy on freedom of speech. On the tricky balancing of freedom of speech, she simply says she doesn’t see the value of rape and death threats, threats she has become all too used to.