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Reddit Transparency Report 2018 (redditinc.com)
116 points by chatmasta 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments

I get the feeling if you really wanted a true transparency report, you would discuss government requests, but also prevalence & detection & restriction of bots, prevalence & detection & restriction of vote farming, true likelihood of random submissions doing anything, acts of reddit censorship and the underlying and reportable reasons for doing so, user tracking and sales & mining of user information.

I don't see 95% of that there.

I get the sense that nearly all social networks have a large financial incentive to either not talk about - or to minimise and downplay - the volume and impact of bots & manipulative actors.

The chance of this behaviour getting addressed is microscopic while these incentives remain as they are.

Traffic quality analysis is often far worse at a lot of these sorts of companies than you'd expect. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have an accurate analysis on the full scope of bots on their network.

They're probably afraid of what they'd find.

Yeah but they should still do that. Bots and astroturfing does not generate big revenue and they are pushing real users to other sites.

Consider that if they study the problem they may discover the problem is severe and they can't fix it. Now they have an even more serious problem: If they lie about the existence of the report, they're defrauding advertisers. If they admit the contents of the report, advertisers and users will flee.

So it's rational for them to not look in the first place. If they don't know, then they're not technically lying. This is good for them, but nobody else.

This "transparency report" is similar to Google's "do no evil" thing, in the sense that it is purely a marketing/PR play, and otherwise completely and utterly meaningless.

"Look at how good we're showing you we are"

Related Reddit thread about the report where Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is answering questions: https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/aq9h0k/reddi...

Most questions are about the Tencent investment. Huffman's response:

> Our governance didn't change during this round, which means we didn't add anyone to the board, and our policies won't be changing either.

I mean, what do you expect, "Yes, our investors were very excited about the fact this would allow them to control and censor one of the largest sites where Americans communicate with each other. Every meeting I had with them was concluded with statements about how excited they were to bring the rich traditions of censorship and Chinese state narrative control to America through this investment. They reassured me on several occasions that I would never be left wondering what it is they wanted me to censor, and that communication on that matter would be clear and open, indeed, downright irresistable. They asked that we go out with a message to the community that strongly emphasized 'He who pays the piper calls the tune', and to assure anyone who asks that of course the primary reason for the investment, as obviously, there aren't very many other reasons to invest, when they are simply inundated with so many significantly better investment opportunities with companies based in China and its much stronger economic growth."

The statement that their policies aren't changing means nothing because it's what they would say regardless of the situation. Including if it's 100% true.

I would like to think, for Tencent, it is a foot in the door.

Perhaps nothing concrete are to come out from this investment (besides its performance), but it is an opportunity cost, and IF the opportunities aligns where one day Tencent able to act/pressure Reddit, it is already a win on multiple levels.

China doesn't have anyone in the board of Hollywood production houses either and yet I learnt right here from HN that there are no Chinese villains or bad portrayal of China anymore. Irrespective of the money they received if they plan to bring Reddit to China, Reddit will be washed clean to Chinese specifications.

>I learnt right here from HN that there are no Chinese villains or bad portrayal of China anymore.

That has more to do with the Chinese box office being a 9 billion a year market than it does Chinese investors.

Does it? The US market is greater than $10 billion and there are plenty of movies that portray Americans as bad guys. Seems more like the government of China might not allow that movie to be released in the first place.

The difference is that it's an American movie with an American bad guy. Take a look at the Chinese movie poster for "The Force Awakens", they minimized the presence of the black character because they knew he wouldn't be popular with Chinese audiences.


Just curious -- Is Finn actually popular with any audiences? Aren't minor villains from the original trilogy more popular than Finn?

Nobody knew that they didn't like Finn before the movie even came out though. This is TFA, not TLJ.

The TFA release date for China was almost one month after the rest of the world. Plenty of time to realize nobody really likes Finn,and adjust marketing accordingly.

> Plenty of time to realize nobody really likes Finn

[Citation needed]

[Substantiation needed to show that marketing materials for films can be changed that quickly]

Finn is consistently less popular than Grand Moff Tarkin and Boba Fett. I've even seen him ranked below Darth Maul, who doesn't even really have a personality at all.

It's a poster. You take it to a printing press and ask for a few thousand new ones, it's NBD. If they didn't already have several alternate designs from before they selected this one, it's like an hour of mucking around in adobe CS to make Finn smaller and droids bigger, less if you have the original images on hand.

Wow, people don’t like Finn? This is not sarcasm, I am truly surprised. I thought he was a fantastic rebirth of the Han Solo ethos. I love him.

I think you mean Poe. Finn is more parallel to C3PO.

Let's compare to the results for The Black Panther (a primarily black cast).

The Force Awakens:

US Box: $937M

Foreign Box: $1.132M

Chinese Box: $124M

The Black Panther:

US Box: $700M

Foreign Box: $647M

Chinese Box: $105M

The Black Panther outperformed in China compared to The Force Awakens as a % of it's domestic box office and as a % of it's total foreign box office.

Is this at all confirmed?

I'd imagine they might have just seen Princess Leia/Han Solo as more recognizable on the posters for an audience that might not be into Star Wars as much as other audiences seem to be.

It wasn't an isolated incident. Disney, or whatever PR firm they're using for promotions in China, did it for Black Panther too. Either of these could perhaps be written off as coincidental, and I'm sure Disney PR in the West is eager to downplay it, but when it happens a few times a pattern starts to emerge. At the very least it's something to keep an eye on whenever Disney releases a movie with a prominent black character.


To white Americans, white Americans are normal people. It is unremarkable when they play any role.

I’m sure China features plenty of movies featuring evil Chinese people.

This is what they call soft power.

Reddit can (relatively) easily filter content to get past the great firewall, without affecting what's shown outside of China. It's much harder to have one version of a movie in China and one with a different ethnicity of villain elsewhere, hence making the movies as broadly suitable as possible.

I strongly urge you not to learn things here. At best, have your curiousity piqued here, and go learn elsewhere.

Is it really that bad if Hollywood is somewhat discouraged from following the latest villain-du-jour trend?

As a German, it became somewhat tiresome in the 80s, although we obviously still deserved it (and much more). Then 9/11 got others into the hot seat for a decade.

This being fiction, any decision to give your villains some distinct national or ethnic identity seems suspect. I guess it’s fine, or at least necessary, I’d the fabric of the plot (Godfather, or that series where Hitler had won WW2). But if it just serves to tell apart good and bad guys by their accent (Die Hard), it seems like entirely unnecessary vilification.

"this round"

Wow, emergency disclosure request compliance went from 10 in 2017 to 162 in 2018, with a near-tripling in the ratio of produced:total requests.

I wonder if their compliance policy changed, or if the requesting parties just got better at making actionable requests, or something else?

My guess is that it's a combination of a larger user base attracting more attention from law enforcement agencies. That relationship doesn't necessarily need to be linear. Once you've gotten to a certain size, I imagine the number of requests for content production/removal increases quite quickly.

I find it odd that they don't mention the data breach that happened in 2018. [0] You would think this would be the place to disclose this and their response in perpetuity as opposed to a reddit thread.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/93qnm5/we_ha...

"Every year, Reddit produces a Transparency Report to provide users with information about the types of requests that we receive from third parties that want Reddit to disclose user data or remove content from the platform."

well, it was a third party, they probably sent some sort of request to reddit, and they certainly wanted some user data :)

I just feel like with the existence of government backed black hats, disclosing a large data breach would fit in nicely here since they haven't ruled out any state actors.

Despite the generic term in name, "Transparency report" generally (i.e. not limited to Reddit) means a very specific thing: report on data/removal requests from 3rd party (usually governments).

I liked Reddit but I think it's too big now, the format just doesn't work for such a big website, I can't imagine the data they have though, I'm sure you can make some crazy psychological profiles with some of the data in there.

It's literally the worst parts of Twitter combined with the worst parts of Facebook with comments from YouTube. I guess most aggregators are cesspools after your cross a certain DAU threshold.

I think the subreddits are a nice solution for that though. There are a lot of very nice and useful niche subreddits.

I agree the frontpage and r/all is a cesspool.

It’s the niche subreddits that keep me using it for now.

The trend is towards worse though with pretty much everything they do lately.

Recommendaome subreddits, I won't ruin them :)

> It's literally the worst parts of Twitter combined with the worst parts of Facebook with comments from YouTube

No it is not. Stop using literally so liberally.

Wow. They nailed that.

I'm quite curious to know if there's a place people chat about what they want after Reddit?

Or after social media in general.

Even HN is extremely impersonal, and while the moderation and content is significantly better than most alternatives, I still often feel like it mainly adds FOMO typed stress to my with little value gained in return.

I mean, even if we end up having an interesting conversation in this thread, we’ll probably never speak again. That’s not really a good form of interaction is it?

At least Reddit’s redesign made it easy to quit.

I wish they would list the requests by user and by sub. Would be good to see which tend to draw the Government’s ire.

I would love to see the which posts are now censored for users in the EU, Russia, and Turkey, as well as the thread that the US Government asked to have deleted

I don’t think disclosing user names of requests would be in the interest of those users.

I’m against it if it’s an active investigation. Otherwise obfuscate the account name.

Are they actually going to detail what content they banned or quarantined? When Reddit previously went on a quarantine spree, I recall a lot of reasonable content got the hammer as well, probably because it doesn't align with the political groupthink of Reddit.

Oh man, you really hit some buttons with me via "Reddit" and "Transparency"! Here is the rant that has been building in me:

The transparency I would like are three rules:

1) New policy statement: All subreddits must state moderation rules in their side bar.

2) New technical consistency: Open moderation logs for all subreddits.

3) New feature: An open log of moderation complaints for each subreddit. Each complaint costs the submitter $1 (or some reputation?) to avoid spam and most thoughtless complaints.

This requires very little from Reddit:

Changes (2) and (3) only require technical changes, no personnel intervention.

Change (1) Is a policy change, but only requires manual work from Reddit after high technical thresholds:

1a) When moderation complaint logs see a lot of submissions relative to subreddit activity, a warning is automatically sent to the moderators whose moderation is subject to complaints.

1b) Only when a moderator has received several warnings, will someone need to review the complaints, the moderation log and decide if a moderator should be removed, get a personal warning, given a clean slate with regard to past complaints, or no action.

1c) If three or more moderators for the same subreddit have to be removed due to consistent violation of the stated policy, then the subreddit can be closed.

The point of all this is:

* Users no longer have to deal with deceptive moderation.

* Users do most of the oversight, Reddit takes on very little extra work.

* Subreddits that spend a lot of time trying to police moderators of related sites can stop. Either there was no problem, it will clear up, or it will be dealt with.

* Reddit becomes more useful to everyone except deceptive moderators.

I disagree.

Subreddits are absolutely owned by the top mod, originally whoever created them. It gets very political but I think your suggestions will just open up an avenue for aggressive takeovers of subreddits.

If someone built a subreddit I think they should be free to do what they want with it. It is authoritarian and causes drama, but not nearly as much drama as if it was democratized and transparent. Bad faith actors can manufacture crises constantly to take over a subreddit. It's happened already.

> It's happened already.


r/punchablefaces was one if i remember. some people got really riled in that case

The top mod of /r/punchablefaces decided that he was going to give it away and offered it to the first person to accept it of two other mods, one from a left-leaning sub, one from a right-leaning sub. The left-leaning one accepted first, and got ownership.

I don't know about one and three, but just two would help a lot and be rather easy.

Reddit is already one of the most heavily censored websites on the internet[1], so I like these rules.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19151922

I believe an even better metric, and one that's completely overlooked, is what data does Reddit collect about it's users from third parties that it holds and could potentially give to government entities.

I don't care about how many times the government requests data from Reddit, I care about what Reddit keeps about me in the first place.

Something that is not at all addressed in any seriousness, even though it is probably the most pertinent issue that faces Reddit in particular, especially in something called a transparency report; is the clear abuse and misuse of both removal of content and banning of user accounts to censor things, usually for political reasons, but often also simply out of convenience or maybe due to conflict of interest, or any other number or reasons. The whole premise of Reddit was public discussion, and today the very notion of the self-moderation and good ideas percolating up and bad ideas being deprioritized through voting is utterly broken as moderators and administrators operate like little feudal lords and wield their control in the most arbitrary manner with rather loose, if any, serious adherence to even their own sub's rules.

There are some rather notable examples of that in the past even though they somewhat escape my mind right now, but I believe there was a case of a moderator using the power to mod in order to suppress mention of some rival product, just as one example. I think there have also been quite notable instances of whole threads just being "nuked" where pages and pages of comments are simply deleted, sometimes due to corporate or even founder ego reasons ... spez

I get that some things, especially illegal things and even things like doxing or real spam need to be removed, but that does not mean that just because something is removed by dictate of mods or admins, it should never ben seen again or invisible to anyone. Make the unapproved thoughts that are not illegal visible to users, maybe even classify them based on the reason for mod/admin flagging, i.e., spam, wrongthink, etc. It would serve to keep mods and admins ethical and accountable and... transparent.

I think it is a rather significant and overlooked issue. Sure you don't want, e.g., one political group being able to spam another, but that doesn't mean that retaining such an event and the comments, just alone for their scientific and historical reasons, is not rather valuable.

There is also another even more significant reason, the pareto effect, which would indicate that it is far more likely that the one outlier solution is snuffed out because the conventional thinking deemed it as an unacceptable outlier and snuffed the account or user out. Think of those who opposed the Iraq war or even the Afghan war, or warned about the tech or housing bubbles, or any number of people who warned about the things that were obvious in hindsight, but the conventional thought persecuted before it became painfully obvious.

When you start digging into the details of this phenomenon, it is quite unsettling actually just how likely it is that the spark of genius we are all hoping for regarding any particular matter under consideration, may have been snuffed because it or the person that could have provided the solution was declared an personal non grata and were essentially put in a digital concentration camp or buried in a digital mass grave of accounts, executed by some fanatic moderator or administrator that did not tolerate wrongthink or free speech as ever broader rubrics of language are falling under ever harsher persecution.

Just think of all the outliers that have produced essentially most major discoveries, now imagine if they had been making their controversial points today in a forum. They would have been shunned and immediately shadow banned, fully banned, or summarily had their voice snuffed out in any number of ways, maybe even just by one moderator or administrator with a dictatorial chip on their shoulder with far more control and power than any one person should have over another person's voice and speech ... no matter how much you are self-convinced that they are wrong and you are right and therefor no one else should be able to hear what you don't approve of.

That applies to this forum too by the way. I know, this is the dominion of the technocratic elite demigods and wrongthink will not be tolerated from mere inferiors, but just think about it all for a second ... if you even get to see this point being made and some mod hasn't deemed it unacceptable for others to see. But you wouldn't have ever known that it was even made, because there would be no trace of it, on orders of the mod executioner.

On this site you can enable 'showdead' in your profile.

Ironic that they're actively censoring critical comments in the transparency report post.

Spez is answering questions in the related announcements thread and, remarkably, responded to a question about reddit's historic free speech stance. [0]

Completely dodged the question and pulled the "Think Of The Children" card, framing the asker as a CP supporter.

Game over for free speech on reddit. It's so blatant it's insulting.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/aq9h0k/reddi...

Does anyone know what kind of growth Reddit has seen over the past few years? I'm curious if the trend in number of disclosure requests over time looks any different when normalized for some sort of growth metric.

> In 2018, Reddit received 28 requests for the production of user account information from foreign governmental authorities (excluding emergency requests). Reddit did not comply with any of these requests.

Apparently nobody in this thread understands what a transparency report is. Also, the level of entitlement in these comments is off the charts.

It’s a report on government/law enforcement requests. This concept wasn’t started by reddit, but by Google and Microsoft.

Reddit is a private company and owes you nothing. Deal with it or visit another site. It’s one thing to suggest changes, but don’t start thinking they or any other company owes it to you to produce whatever documentation and reporting you happen to be curious about.

I wonder how many of those request are related to the 2016 election.

I feel like reddit nowadays needs a transparency report for their own actions. I don't know what happened to reddit, but it isn't so transparent anymore.

I saw this earlier today scrolling through in card view mode, except what I saw was an image macro with text about how I'm using an ad blocker. I was amused, the irony of a transparency report being blocked because of an ad blocker. I was using Brave. I didn't click through, yep I'm just gonna scroll by without updoot because the Great Thing About Reddit is it (mostly) works great with no account. At least so far.

Wow, we Canadians sure do love our takedown requests (section 3). Wonder what the reason is for our disproportionately high number of requests.

They didn't include how many posts were removed as "spam". It seems like an important thing to include.

That has nothing to do with the purpose of the transparency report, which is specifically about third-party requests:

> Every year, Reddit produces a Transparency Report to provide users with information about the types of requests that we receive from third parties that want Reddit to disclose user data or remove content from the platform.

They make a point of showing that Reddit admins delete less content than the various subreddit moderators do. I would guess that 90% of the stuff being removed by mods (or AutoMod) is spam, making it a bit of an apples to oranges comparison

As I read it they didn't include what they remove automatically as spam, just what they as humans remove.

I must be looking at this incorrectly. I don’t see ‘Requests from Reddit Investors’ listed anywhere.

reddit is much a manipulated site. It’s terrible than Facebook but slightly better than Twitter.

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