Vox Media’s subsidiaries, Polygon and Vox.com, have both made articles in recent times imploring Reddit’s administrators to have the sub-Reddit Kotaku In Action removed. This comes after the Reddit administrators vowed to get more serious about cracking down on violent speech and threatening messages.
On November 14th, 2017 Vox.com published an article criticizing Reddit for not banning sub-Reddits like The_Donald and Kotaku In Action. The major reason for having KiA banned? Well, author Aja Romano writes…
“Reddit’s new stricter content policies won’t do much, if anything, to halt the violence and hate speech in sub-forums like The_Donald and r/KotakuinAction, a notorious Gamergate hub that also fuels alt-right rhetoric — the reason being that, well, Reddit administrators don’t appear to see them as serious problems, despite routinely being handed evidence to the contrary. “
The article claims there is evidence of Kotaku In Action being a sub that contains “violence” and “hate speech”, but the article doesn’t really make any effort at all to point out what sort of evidence has been presented to Reddit’s administrators that warrants a ban of the sub.
For those of you who don’t know, KiA is dedicated to pointing out a lot of the ethical malfeasance exercised by media outlets, along with exposing censorship and culturally dividing practices oftentimes given a platform on mainstream and enthusiast media outlets. The sub-Reddit is also known as one of the last bastions for #GamerGate after the consumer revolt was censored, banned or driven off of many other forum boards, discussion threads and social media sites.
Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped the media from attempting to paint Kotaku In Action as a hub for harassment and hate speech, as indicated with the Vox article above.
Polygon published an article attacking Kotaku In Action as well earlier in the month on November 2nd, 2017. Author Julia Alexander spends a lot more time pointing fingers at the sub than Aja Romano, making many claims about its intent, writing…
“Kotaku in Action began in 2014, when the GamerGate movement — a reactionary, hateful campaign that targeted women and marginalized people in the games industry and manufactured a cover of being interested in “ethics in games journalism” — first sprung up. Although the subreddit declared itself to be a “place to discuss the drama and other crazy bullshit that seems to be more and more a part of the gaming journalism industry these days,” the forum devolved into a place to hurl insults and write damaging posts against women and people of color associated with the industry.”
The article does link to a single post of someone they claim posted hate speech, but the article also clarifies that the post has already been deleted, making it a moot example.
The Polygon article goes on to say that there is no evidence of Kotaku In Action being used as a call-to-action hub against anyone, nor is there any evidence that the sub was used to organize harassment. Nevertheless, the article still attempts to frame the narrative that Kotaku in Action was used to facilitate “foul” discussions about certain individuals…
“Kotaku in Action has never explicitly called for action against a single person or group of people, instead focusing on foul, offensive discussions of industry people and popular personalities. These regularly include Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, all of whom were prominent targets during of the GamerGate movement. (The forum has since moved away from discussing and condemning “PC culture” in video games to focus more broadly on right-wing politics.)”
The attacks on Kotaku In Action were met with mixed reactions in Polygon’s own comment section, but an individual who frequented the sub-Reddit actually attempted to reach out to the author to find out what exact evidence they had that would warrant the sub’s removal from Reddit. The KiA user didn’t receive a response.
I reached out to the moderators of Kotaku In Action and asked if they had been contacted by Vox or Polygon before the articles were published, or if they were given a chance to a right-of-reply, but they stated that the last time they were contacted by a media outlet was eight months ago for a piece published on Vice’s Motherboard vertical back on February 9th, 2017, with moderator HandofBane explaining…
“[…] of course neither Polygon nor Vox made any attempt to reach out to us at all. The last contact we had with any related place was about eight […] months ago when someone from Motherboard fired off blind PMs to multiple moderators hoping for a statement that could be used in a hitpiece against the sub.
HandofBane went on to explain that they have not received any warnings or comments from the administrators about the sub being shut down and that they “clamp down” on anyone attempting to dox or attempt to use the sub to witch hunt.
In fact, HandofBane details how Kotaku In Action was actually ahead of the curve when it came to updating policies to prevent calls for violence by publishing a rule update back on August 18th, 2017, which predated Reddit’s own sitewide policy update regarding calls to violence by two whole months. Bane wrote…
“[…] no administrators have made any comments about taking action against KiA publicly, anywhere that we are aware of. The previously existing “policy” from the admins was that they would reach out to mod teams directly first to try to work out problems that they felt needed addressing before taking any severe actions. The last time we were contacted by them about anything “major” like that was just over a year ago. Since then we have at most seen very minor contact in relation to very specific issues on posts/users, but nothing whatsoever on our needing to make any policy changes to how we have done things here. We even managed to beat the admins to the punch on updating our Rule 1 to cover “calls for violence”, “encouraging/promoting violence” and similar, by more than two months (referring to their own sitewide policy update regarding that type of content).”
For a sub that prides itself on calling out unethical media violations – and maintaining a strict ruleset to prevent any forms of harassment, doxing, brigading, or calls for violence – how can it be considered worthy of a ban in the eyes of Vox and Polygon?
Well, I attempted to reach out to find out what exactly Kotaku In Action did to deserve removal from Reddit, but I haven’t received a response. Others also reached out to find out why the authors didn’t contact the Kotaku In Action mods or actually explain what rules the sub has violated to warrant removal, but they were also unable to get a response from the Vox Media staff.
A few individuals on the KiA thread believe that Vox.com authors like Aja Romano may want the sub removed because they called them out for various types of outrage bait, sensationalism, and misinformation being peddled regarding #GamerGate. This was quite evident with the search results of Romano’s content being mentioned rather frequently on Kotaku In Action, but certainly not because of their adherence to ethics in journalism.
If anyone from Vox decides to offer a comment, the article will be updated with their response.