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Reddit: a necessary change in policy (reddit.com)
175 points by citricsquid 1902 days ago | hide | past | web | 199 comments | favorite



Here is the original thread that started it all, since the admins at reddit don't want to link to it: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=346....

And the reddit response: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/duplicates/pmbyc/somethin....


Since you need an SA account to view this thread, here is a mirror:

http://bit.ly/xUMAup


There is a subreddit called "LegalTeens" that they find offensive??


How do you effectively determine if a teen in a picture is 18+ or not? Porn companies get legal documentation to prove it, but there's no such thing in a random jpeg.

Reddit is covering their legal asses, and I can perfectly understand that.


It's opening a big can of worms.

You cannot prove their age (I've seen 17 year-olds looking like they were 25) and you cannot prove they give their consent to have their seemingly private pic posted, but this can be said about almost any "mirror pic" or home pic. You also don't generally know when a picture has been publicly posted by the person in it, or not.

As soon as you put the burden of proof in the website, you start slipping into SOPA territory.

Not a good idea IMO.


It will be interesting to see how far this goes, it's likely we'll look back on this as reddit's turning point - there is some really awful content on that site.

However it's ironic that people rush to defend linking to cam-of-new-hollywood-blockbuster.torrent as "just a link", declaring it can't be illegal because it's just pointing to a file, it's not hosting it and only a fool lawyer or judge nestled warmly in the pocket of the RIAA/MPAA could misunderstand this.

But when that link goes to 13yearoldinabikini.jpg, a collection of 1s and 0s on someone else's server, suddenly this Link is a tool of evil and not only must it be removed, but the community celebrates the censorship and nominates more items for censorship.


Child pornography is dissimilar to copyright piracy. Child pornography is in a legal category unto itself, at least according to United States case law.


"13yearoldinabikini.jpg" probably cannot be classified as a pornography. Most of the things they banned were probably legal (I can't imagine there really was a true child pornography subreddit). But I understand having these subreddits around was a slippery slope and some content might have been over the edge. And as was already mentioned, it's hard work to control it post by post. Especially when some askreddit post accumulated the infamous reddit-hivemind and they went on reporting every single post in "targeted" subreddit (whatever the content).


Crotch focussed pictures of 6/7 yo girls can be classed as child pornography in the USA and UK.

Also reddit was holding copies (thumbnails) and so IMO should be liable legally as distributors of said material.


Indeed. The concepts of "fair use", "safe harbor", et al are copyright concepts.


I shall be waiting for the next phase of banns on things that can lead to CP and things that are worse than CP.


Banning child porn is hardly the beginning of a slippery slope to the iron fist of reddit censorship.

Child porn is probably the one subject that is so indefensible that no one in their right mind would consider it a great loss that a major distribution channel for it was turned off.

Not that I believe for a second that the degenerates won't figure out some way to either skirt the rules or find another friendly site to aid and abet them.

It's a good first step, even if it was made under extreme duress.


There are people on Reddit trying to make the case that (based on a study from the University of Hawaii), access to child porn (or, more reasonably, artificial child porn like lolicon) can significantly reduce the rates of child sexual abuse:

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2010/11/30/legalizing.child...

By the way, I'm not in any way supporting that opinion, just presenting the case that some people are making. I personally think there are probably better ways to combat child abuse than giving people lolicon.


Sure, I would bet that there are better ways to prevent child abuse than making sure that pedophiles have access to no-children-involved virtual child porn. But would it be an improvement over the current situation? I think it might; there are definitely a lot of anonymous posts on Reddit from pedophiles who use erotic fiction and lolicon hentai to suppress desires for anything involving actual children.

The broader question is: how can we improve the pedophile situation? Banning "questionable content" is politically easy, but doesn't seem to do much to protect anyone; as long as the stuff is being produced, there will be way to obtain it. It would be nice if pedophiles could get effective counseling to minimize their chances of molesting children, but currently it's very hard for pedophiles to get any sort of counseling without being reported to the police. That hardly seems ideal.

Any ideas?


For starters, remove the mandatory reporting rules for psychiatrists. Currently, if a patient tells a psychiatrist that he has pedophile tendencies, the doctor is bound by law to report him to the authorities. This causes all of the pedophiles who don't want to be pedophiles to not seek treatment, increasing their risk of actually offending.


I don't think the mandatory reporting rules (generally) require reporting for tendencies. I think the common rule is a report has to be made if there has been contact with a child. Of course, pedophiles are so vilified that I can't imagine too many are knocking on therapists' doors asking for help. And those that do certainly aren't advertising it.


That's kind of surprising to me, patient confidentiality doesn't apply for psychiatrists?



It does, but most states/countries have some exception. For example, here in Australia a psychiatrist has to report someone they think is going to cause harm to themselves or others.


I understand that you are not supporting that opinion, but I would like to rebut anyway.

Whether it significantly reduces the rates of child sexual abuse is besides the point. If someone thinks it's okay for one child to be abused so another may or may not be abused later, they need to check into the nearest psychiatric ward immediately.

We are human beings, for fucks sake. We should be holding ourselves to a higher standard than that.

Someone should make a site to permanently enshrine all the bugfuck insanity these people are trying to use to defend the indefensible.


Not to mention the sinister side-effect of allowing CP to reduce abuse- last I heard, much of it is produced via children from second-world countries. So in the end, we internalize all the benefit within the USA, and externalize all the suffering to downtrodden nations and their children.


I see little reason why we couldn't ban CP which was produced with real children, but legalize CP which was not (e.g., cartoons, CGI, etc).

Note that /r/lolicon is one of the banned subreddits.


So in the end, we internalize all the benefit within the USA, and externalize all the suffering to downtrodden nations

Kind like what happens with industrial production, natural resources and democracy, then?


Nobody is excusing the abuse of children. The only thing being petitioned for the title of 'okay' is image linking.

But there are definite flaws in the plan, especially when it comes to the rights of the victims.


That's a distinction without a difference.


You make no distinction between actively hurting children and copying photos of someone else hurting a child in the past?


I recently made the same distinction on HN, but there's not much point to it because the Moral Majority has made real discussion of CP so toxic that pretty much everyone avoids it. The situation is so bad that your very question might get you branded as a "pedophile". I believe that what Reddit is doing represents a slippery slope, one made out of legal convenience, and that the above distinction, rather than issues of copyright, represents the real battlefield for online freedom of speech.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3560923


Looks like the journalist didn't bother reading the study. The author fails to mention that where cp was de-banned resulting in a reduction in (reported) child abuse cases, that the reduction was temporary and was back up, and increasing, within a few years. Also plenty of correlation = causation going on in that article.


The author fails to mention that where cp was de-banned resulting in a reduction in (reported) child abuse cases, that the reduction was temporary and was back up, and increasing, within a few years.

How so?

The striking rise in reported child sex abuse depicted for the last half decade of the 1990s, according to notations and records in the Year Book of Ministry of Internal Affairs, do not apparently relate to the same types of child sex abuse recorded previously or afterward. They are believed to more closely reflect a concerted effort by the government to deal with a rise in child prostitution and the influx of foreign pimps, their prostitutes, and clients following the introduction of capitalism. This phenomenon seemed to be caused by the new economic situation and the society’s attempt to cope. Once the child prostitution surge was dealt with, the downward trend in overall reports of child sex abuse continued.


The author of the article fails to mention it. The author of the paper does, but fails to consider that maybe the decrease in reported cases in 1989 is just as spurious as the increases in the late 90s. The decrease in reported child sex abuse started in the 70's, according to the study.


The article on the Diamond report is terrible.

Fig 1 of the report shows a continual decline, then shortly after the liberalisation there is a 60-70% increase in child sexual abuse and massive rise in rape ...

I don't find that report's hypotheses well supported by the Czech Republic study. Will be interesting now they've de-liberalised to see how things pan out.


They began on the slippery slope - they didn't shut down some kiddy porn ring today, they shut down something that might be illegal. You can see kids in bikinis in movies, magazines including by their parent company [1], at the beach, etc.

Reddit's got a lot of content that might be illegal, that few people would be sad to see gone, and that the community as a whole would be a better class of people without.

[1] Is this CP if it's submitted to reddit? http://www.teenvogue.com/style/market/feature/2011/05/tribal...


"I would think banning something that may be illegal plants you pretty firmly on that slippery slope … "

Not sure I agree there. A forum (non-tech, it's actually a model-specific motorcycle forum) that I'm involved in has explicit rules against discussion of "politics, firearms, and police", not because it's illegal, but because there's such a strong track record of well intentioned discussions of those topics degenerating into arguments and fights that are _clearly_ not worth whatever "benefit" the free and open discussion of those topics on a motorcycle forum might have.

Whether or not you agree that grey-area images of children are technically legal, the owners/admins of Reddit clearly have the right to say "legal or not, we choose not to host those images/discussions here." You wouldn't expect a church or McDonalds to feel happy with you arranging a group of friends to meet there and swap bikini model photos - even if they're completely legal images, they're inappropriate for someone else's venue and they've got every right to say "not here, please". (and have you moved along if you persist).

I think fears of "slippery slopes" here are unfounded.


I think it's different when the rules are explicit from the start like in most forums, versus Reddit's case of actively upholding free speech and the right to like and link to (sometimes really) gross stuff.


So you believe teen girls in swimsuits is child porn? I'm sure you can find these same pictures all over facebook, should facebook remove those "child porn" images too?


Teen girls in swimsuits can be child abuse images: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dost_test#Criteria


In point of fact, nothing under discussion here is child porn. Child porn implies porn, and none of this was porn.


There is a difference between making something illegal and moderating a private site. Eg. I'm for freedom of speech but I'm not allowing anyone with swastika tattoos in to my house.


It's surprisingly hard to come up with a balanced version of such rules.

Using your example: What about a follower of the religion that symbol was stolen from? Or a hard core gamer with image of a dieing SS member from Wallenstein.

As to Reddit, stock footage of Wimbledon can be less the wholesome content for people with a certain mindset. Let alone Posters from any number of bands etc. Personally, I would suggest playing it extremely safe, but at some point you need to find an arbitrary line based not one what's bad but something that says 'this' is OK. Or there is a steady march to ban an ever wider swath of content. How could she be so shameful as to show her wrists in public.


> Or there is a steady march to ban an ever [wider?] swath of content.

That would actually be alarming if it were a government we were talking about here. Who cares if some privately owned web site starts "censoring" (a ridiculous bastardization of what that word is actually intended to convey, btw) its users? Surf somewhere else.


Sure, as a user it's not really an issue. But, someone set's a policy to be administered by unpaid community members and for them it's a tricky subject.

PS: There are literally people that will be offended from pictures of female wrists, others get offended if your not willing to show such things. So at some point you need to say _ people will be offended and that's OK.


>It's surprisingly hard to come up with a balanced version of such rules.

It doesn't have to be balanced or even consistent, if people think reddit is getting to oppressive they can start using (or create) a different site. I don't see them loosing many users over this, at least not the kind of users you want to have.


"It's surprisingly hard to come up with a balanced version of such rules."

Unless you're satisfied that the occasional "false positive" is an acceptable side effect. Sure, a "no swastika tattoos in my house" rule _might_ mean I (or the OP) end up not becoming friends with an edge-case - and that might be sad, but if the flipside is having to go to a lot of extra effort to find some more specific way of screening the neo-nazis who outnumber the edge-cases 1000:1, maybe that's a choice I'd reluctantly make.

Sorry strange-religion-guy and artisticly-dubious-gamer-dude - you might just end up "collateral damage" in my fight to simplify my life.


I didn't realize Hindu's were "strange-religion-guy", being 1/7th of the planet and all.

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/04...

http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lspjjptRL71qzs5bqo1_500.jp...


OK, so Hindu isn't that "strange", but I tend to doubt very many Hindus have swastika tattoos without also falling into the "strange-religion-guy" circle on the Venn diagram...

(But I also fail because of the "not every neo-nazi has a swastika tattoo either" thing...)


Actually, the swastika is used to bless things in Hinduism. When my parents bought a car, they put a swastika on it while the priest prayed over it. I had to point out that they might want to move that indoors somewhere before they got reported to the police by someone who didn't know what they were looking at (when the Nazi's stole the symbol, they mirrored it).


I don't think Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism[0] can be considered strange religions/edge cases.

[0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika


Generally speaking, though, dealing with things on a case-by-case basis is the appropriate and intelligent process. You're perfectly capable of analyzing a visitor's swastika tattoo within its own context, and determine whether that particular individual is, in fact, someone you're willing to allow into your house, without having to apply a hard-and-fast a priori rule.

Unfortunately, as the Reddit post describes, dealing with case-by-case analysis of pornographic material posted to reddit was simply consuming too much time and attention from the admins. They could either scale up their staff for dealing with grey-area cases, at the expense of other activities they might undertake to improve the site, or they could simply no longer permit grey-area material outside a certain boundary to be posted on the site. They chose to do the latter.


A part of the trouble is that most reddits automatically show thumbnails of linked images and videos. Now it's more than "just a link."

Also keep in mind that there are no safe harbor provisions for CP as there are with copyright infringement. It makes no sense to flirt with illegality regarding CP, since one photo judged to be illegal kills Reddit.


It’s “Congress shall make no law”, not “Reddit shall make no rule”.


If you want to argue definitions, censorship is censorship no matter who's doing it.


It's still censorship, it's just not illegal.


Oh, I love censorship by private organizations†. Censorship is what makes my favorite news website great. Can you imagine what a mess it would be if every damn journalist could write what they wanted? Censors (commonly also called editors) are what make a lot of stuff great.

Also: Are you really outraged by that? What is wrong with you?

† I make exceptions for critical communication infrastructure that is owned by a single or a small number of private organizations. Reddit is not that. Not by a long shot.


Oh, I love censorship by private organizations†. Censorship is what makes my favorite news website great. Can you imagine what a mess it would be if every damn journalist could write what they wanted? Censors (commonly also called editors) are what make a lot of stuff great.

Not all elimination of speech is censorship, only if they target content that is consider "objectionable" or "inconvenient". Other reasons for eliminating speech (like not reporting the news that they were supposed to report) are not censorship.

If an editor eliminates content from an opinion piece simply because they consider it "objectionable", then it's censorship.

Are you really outraged by that?

Outraged? No. Who says I am? I do find it sad that Reddit isn't a place of free speech (as in, everything-except-illegality), but considering the subjectiveness of the Dost test, I can't say I blame them.

What is wrong with you?

Plenty.


everything-except-illegality

CP is illegal...


How many CP was really there is debatable. But I tell you this: if Reddit had CP, then Facebook is a major CP distributor, probably the largest in the world.


They applaud the censorship because the content is predatory. Even though images like "13yearoldinabikini.jpg" are legal, they are almost certainly scraped from some unsuspecting teenager's Facebook album. Also, remember to consider this within the scope of reddit. If reddit announced they were banning all subreddits dedicated to warez, most people would say "well duh".


> Even though images like "13yearoldinabikini.jpg" are legal, they are almost certainly scraped from some unsuspecting teenager's Facebook album.

Can you explain what you mean by "predatory"? I understand that it gives you the heeby jeebies. But what predation is taking place?


  Prey:
  2
  a : an animal taken by a predator as food
  b : one that is helpless or unable to resist attack : victim <was prey to his own appetites>
In this case, the prey are unsuspecting teenage girls who are powerless to prevent horny men from prowling their Facebook profiles for photos to circulate into underage spank banks (or for personal use).


Most rules and mores are arbitrary in nature and only gain meaning in our capacity to uphold them. They're handicaps we place on ourselves. If that doesn't make sense, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handicap_principle


This reminds me of Digg's situation with AACS (http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Digg.com_suffers_user_revolt)


This is a little off topic, but speaking of child abuse, I was recently called to jury duty for a case of "first degree rape of a child under 12". This was not one of those edge cases where you've got a 12 year old with a boyfriend a few years older, just outside the legal age difference. No, this was a 40+ year old man having sex with a 6 year old girl. (My number was high enough in the jury pool that I didn't get anywhere near the jury box, but I found out later the defendant was easily convicted).

Here's what is interesting about this: in the last year, 3 other people from my area at work (about 10 people) have also been called to jury duty--and ALL of them were child sex cases. Two were also "first degree rape of a child under 12", and one just recalled that it was child molestation.

Two things astounded me about this.

1. That there were so many child rape and molestation cases. I had never though of this area as some kind of hotbed of child sex (Western Washington, across Puget Sound from Seattle), but it seems kind of high to have all 4 people called to jury duty in my office in the last year be called for this kind of case.

2. There was nothing in the news. The defendant in the case I was on had an unusual name. I googled for it, and the only things that show up about him are things like his entry in the county jail booking records:

http://www.kitsapgov.com/sheriff/incustody/jailwebsecond.asp...

and his upcoming court dates on the county court calendar. Not a single newspaper story of his arrest, or his conviction, or of his earlier trial that ended in a hung jury.

If a 40+ year old man raping a 6 year old girl is not newsworthy, that leaves me wondering what other horrible crimes go on around me that do not make the news.


It may assuage you a bit to know that sexual abuse (http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Children/U...) has been on a dramatic down trend for quite a while. Interestingly, there has also been a decline in rape per capita (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/rape.cfm).

I bet if you took a survey, people would think the opposite is true.


Generally stories of this sort that make the news involve strangers, but such events are extremely rare compared to molestation by a friend or relative of the family. Those stories are much less sensational, and so don't tend to make the news.


Which in itself is strange when you consider the massive breach of trust and expected behaviour that would come with a child being abused by a parent/relative.

While all child molestation is vile, it's more vile for it to be committed by a supposed loved one (at least in my eyes)


There's also the issue of not identifying the minor involved (at least in Australian law).

So "Joe Bloggs was convicted of molesting his niece" would not be able to be reported, since it could identify the victim.

And "A man was convicted of molesting his niece" isn't really news - if it's all anonymous, then it probably needs to be a trend story. And thankfully the trend seems to be downwards, though I suspect there's still a tragic amount of unreported crimes of this nature.


It is interesting that yesterday I was reading an article that relates increase of child attraction to Internet Phonograph. http://www.reuniting.info/wiring_sexual_tastes_to_hairless_g...

TLDR: The market standard of waxed in phonograph movies , confuses the evolutionary trigger that protect adults having desires for females that are not sexually mature.


Virtually none of the crucial citations on that source seem very reputable; just lots of links to pop-psychology sources, and links to the authors' own books. Very sketchy.


This comment was intensely confusing until I realized that "phonograph" meant "pornography".


Update: alienth from reddit explains why and how they went about forming the new policy:

    As the post said, we follow NCMEC reporting procedures.
    However, addressing this type of content was taking up
    more and more of our limited time. Also, none of us
    were particularly keen on analyzing this content and
    trying to determine what was and was not illegal.
    
    Whenever flair-ups like the preteen mess occur, it adds
    a tonne of stress upon us. We've been pouring over
    these decisions all weekend. It became clear that
    unless we addressed this content with a new rule, we
    were going to continue to drown in the minutia of what
    is child pornography, and what is not.
http://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/pmk22/admins...


One thing that disappointed me in the discussion is how most was focused on whether or not the pictures in /r/preteen_girls were legal. Even if they were clearly legal, I think a strong case can be made for banning them for violating the privacy of the children in the photos.

Most of them seemed to be girls photographed at home, probably by family members. I suspect they were shared on the net with relatives, by people who did not know they were making them publicly available. There were also quite a few that seemed to be girls photographed in public who were not aware they were being photographed.


If the standard becomes to delete every picture containing people who haven't explicitly consented to that picture being posted in a public forum... well, that's a huge chunk of Reddit.


Good thing for them that's obviously not the standard.


I know, I was just pointing out a flaw in tzs's reasoning.


Sad.


It's different when the privacy violation is followed by being involved in somebody else's sex act without consent.


Very interesting to watch what a coordinated attack can do to a website. Always sad to see when people rally behind better/stronger censorship. Companies should get attacked for taking freedoms away and not the other way around. If they had illegal content on their sites, than by all means report it etc. But I still believe that anything legal SHOULD be allowed.

On the other hand it might be more a personal thing against Reddit for freeriding/pretending ownership of ideas with might have originated in other places.


What concerns me here is that they made this change not because it was the right thing to do (if that were the case, this would've happened months ago, when the controversy initially surfaced). Instead, they did it after a concerted campaign by SA. Who's to say that SA couldn't/won't do the same to get other topics banned as well?

Of course, the nice thing about the internet is that we can route around these issues. The fact that the software powering Reddit is open source[0] only makes it easer.

0: https://github.com/reddit/reddit/wiki


Are you honestly trying to set up a slippery slope argument starting with child pornography?

There's a significant difference between protected speech and illegal material. Reddit (finally) cracked down on illegal material. Let's talk when they crack down on legal speech.


You completely missed my point here. Reddit didn't crack down on the material because it was illegal, they cracked down on it because SA decided to launch a campaign against it. If the Reddit admins had been concerned about hosting illegal material, they would have banned all such material months ago, when Andersoon Cooper mentioned its presence on Reddit on national TV.

This sets a dangerous precedent - that anyone who wants to get any sort of material banned from Reddit just needs to whip up SA (or an internet forum of similar influence) into a frenzy. My concerns are largely orthogonal to the fact that the particular type of content against which SA launched a campaign today was child pornography.


Yeah, I think that's a strange view.

Reddit finally banned illegal child pornography because they were afraid of the media shitstorm that would arise from not cracking down on child pornography the first time they knew about it.

If SA "gets whipped up" about any other type of content that isn't illegal, what's the harm?

Reddit admins were afraid for a good reason - any more attention to the fact that they knew about child pornography and did nothing would be a big problem.


> Reddit finally banned illegal child pornography because they were afraid of the media shitstorm that would arise from not cracking down on child pornography the first time they knew about it.

No, they knew about it months ago, when they banned /r/jailbait in response to AC360 coverage. But that's all they did, despite being aware of the presence of numerous other subreddits offering similar fare.

> If SA "gets whipped up" about any other type of content that isn't illegal, what's the harm?

The harm is that the Reddit admins banning this sort of material had nothing to do with the fact that it was illegal (they already knew that a long time ago, as I stated above). The sole reason seems to be that SA had launched a campaign against it. So if SA launches a similar campaign against something else that isn't illegal, one can logically conclude that the Reddit admins would once again cave and ban that material as well.

> Reddit admins were afraid for a good reason - any more attention to the fact that they knew about child pornography and did nothing would be a big problem.

And here we get to the fundamental problem. As I stated in my initial post, this was a response to a potential PR shitstorm. It had nothing to do with purported illegality of the material, or it would've been banned a long time ago.


If SA gets angry at reddit about, say, atheism/libertarianism/whatthefuckeverism, and goes after reddit, how is there going to be a PR shitstorm?

Your premise is nonsensical. The PR shitstorm was brewing because reddit continued to provide a safe haven for pedophiles to exchange child pornography after CNN called them out on it. What the fuck else is reddit doing right now that could lead to such a shitstorm? Assassinations? Human trafficking?


Reddit already disallowed illegal material. The announcement is that they're broadening that to include a fair amount of legal material as well.


Nothing they've removed is legal. A child does not have to be nude to constitute child pornography.


But a picture of a child is not automatically pornography either. Of course there were plenty of legal pictures removed.


The number of illegal pictures far outweighed the number of pictures you could construe as legal, and even then, the subreddit itself was illegal.


The number of illegal pictures far outweighed the number of pictures you could construe as legal

Considering the subjectiveness of the legal rules, I find that impossible to know unless each pictures was considered by a court.

In any case, if most of r/jailbait was illegal, I don't see why Vanity Fair isn't, considering the 15-year-old Miley Cyrus photoshoot, or Wikipedia considering the album cover of Virgin Killer.

the subreddit itself was illegal.

How so? What law did it break?


>Considering the subjectiveness of the legal rules, I find that impossible to know unless each pictures was considered by a court.

Then this entire argument is moot, is it not? If you require a court to verify each photograph, you do not belong in this discussion.

>In any case, if most of r/jailbait was illegal, I don't see why Vanity Fair isn't, considering the 15-year-old Miley Cyrus photoshoot, or Wikipedia considering the album cover of Virgin Killer.

Do you really not see the difference between a Vanity Fair photo shoot and an album's cover art to photos taken and collected of underage children for the sexual gratification of others?

>How so? What law did it break?

Its moderators distributed and promoted child pornography.


Then this entire argument is moot, is it not? If you require a court to verify each photograph, you do not belong in this discussion.

Ok, then first: did you look at all pictures in r/jailbait, r/teen_girls, etc? If not, how can you say they were all illegal?

Second: under what capacity are you empowered to decide who belongs to this discussion?

Do you really not see the difference between a Vanity Fair photo shoot and an album's cover art to photos taken and collected of underage children for the sexual gratification of others?

What, do you really think the photoshoot of a naked Miley Cyrus (covered, but still naked) was not intended to arouse men? Ha.

Now compare that with r/jailbait, where all photos were clothed and many (most?) were self-shots.

Its moderators distributed and promoted child pornography.

So they broke the law, not the subreddits. Having a forum called "jailbait" or "teen girls" is not illegal by itself.


>Ok, then first: did you look at all pictures in r/jailbait, r/teen_girls, etc? If not, how can you say they were all illegal?

I said the majority of them were illegal.

>What, do you really think the photoshoot of a naked Miley Cyrus (covered, but still naked) was not* intended to arouse men? Ha.*

You can continue your conjecturing, but according to [the photographer and Cyrus][0], it was artistic.

[0]: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/SummerConcert/story?id=4...

>Now compare that with r/jailbait, where all photos were clothed and many (most?) were self-shots.

Oh, you mean all of those photos taken from their Facebook pages and Photobucket accounts without their permission? The photos meant only for themselves or their friends, spread across the Internet? Totally better than Miley Cyrus taking a single artistic photograph for Vanity Fair.

>So they broke the law, not the subreddits. Having a forum called "jailbait" or "teen girls" is not illegal by itself.

I never said it was.


I said the majority of them were illegal.

Have you looked at the majority of pictures in r/jailbait, r/teen_girls, etc? If not, how can you say they were illegal?

The fact is, to determine whether they are CP or not, you have to make subjective considerations, since the objective criteria of the test (the focal point of the visual depiction and whether the subject is naked) were not fulfilled by most images there.

So the question is, how can you claim "the majority of them were illegal" when it's impossible to objectively determine that?

You can continue your conjecturing, but according to [the photographer and Cyrus][0], it was artistic.

And I'm sure plenty of r/teen_girls posters would tell you they're posting the images for their artistic value.

Oh, you mean all of those photos taken from their Facebook pages and Photobucket accounts without their permission? The photos meant only for themselves or their friends, spread across the Internet? Totally better than Miley Cyrus taking a single artistic photograph for Vanity Fair.

That's a completely different issue, don't muddle the discussion. We were discussing what is child pornography and the legality, not the privacy implications.


>Have you looked at the majority of pictures in r/jailbait, r/teen_girls, etc? If not, how can you say they were illegal?

I saw enough to make the judgement the majority of it was illegal. They had no intention of posting legal content.

>So the question is, how can you claim "the majority of them were illegal" when it's impossible to objectively determine that?

Okay then, if I were to claim, "The ones I saw were illegal." How would that change anything? There was still blatantly illegal content actively posted to and promoted on a forum.

If your goal was to win an argument of semantics, you should rethink your strategy.

>And I'm sure plenty of r/teen_girls posters would tell you they're posting the images for their artistic value.

No, most of them admitted to wanting sexual gratification out of the images. You must not have visited the subreddit. This wasn't some grey area.

>That's a completely different issue, don't muddle the discussion.

You were the one to first compare them. You should take your own advice. ;)


I saw enough to make the judgement the majority of it was illegal. They had no intention of posting legal content.

Again, why were those illegal and not the examples I gave? "Artistic value" is not a criteria of the Dost test. Why they were posted isn't either.

If those subreddits were illegal, then so are: many magazines, Wikipedia, Facebook (where a lot of them come), Google (try a search for 'jailbait' images), a huge number of movies, various TV shows and more.

Okay then, if I were to claim, "The ones I saw were illegal." How would that change anything? There was still blatantly illegal content actively posted to and promoted on a forum.

If your goal was to win an argument of semantics, you should rethink your strategy.

But (IMO) you still haven't managed to tell me why are those illegal and not the examples I gave. The only reason you gave (artistic value) is irrelevant to their legality, according to the test.

No, most of them admitted to wanting sexual gratification out of the images. You must not have visited the subreddit. This wasn't some grey area.

I very much doubt you could tell what most of 11600+ people said.

But in any case, if I derive sexual gratification from your posts, do they become obscene? The reason they are posted is irrelevant to determine their legality.

You were the one to first compare them. You should take your own advice. ;)

That's disingenuous. I brought them as examples which are relevant to the point being discussed - whether the images are illegal or not.


>Again, why were those illegal and not the examples I gave? "Artistic value" is not a criteria of the Dost test. Why they were posted isn't either.

Probably because the photograph wasn't meant to elicit a sexual response, nor were her genitals the focal point of the photograph.

>If those subreddits were illegal, then so are: many magazines, Wikipedia, Facebook (where a lot of them come), Google (try a search for 'jailbait' images), a huge number of movies, various TV shows and more.

Erm, no. No they're not.

>The only reason you gave (artistic value) is irrelevant to their legality, according to the test.

From the Dost test article:

>>Not all of the criteria need to be met, nor are other criteria necessarily excluded in this test.

>I very much doubt you could tell what most of 11600+ people said.

I could tell the general attitude of the subreddit from the majority of the comments posted. This isn't hard. When you go into /r/trees, you understand they are pro-marijuana. Maybe not all 100% subscribers feel that way, but that doesn't matter. So saying "Well you can't know what all the subscribers think!" is completely meaningless.

>But in any case, if I derive sexual gratification from your posts, do they become obscene?

No.

>I brought them as examples which are relevant to the point being discussed - whether the images are illegal or not.

And taking photos from a child's account and posting them all over the Internet are illegal.


...the subreddit itself was illegal.

I never said it was.

Could you reconcile these two statements?

Also, if you believe that the stolen facebook/photobucket photos are illegal, should facebook/photobucket be held liable for hosting it?


I never said the subreddit is illegal because it's titled "jailbait" or "teen girls". I said it's illegal because of the content it hosts and promotes.

>Also, if you believe that the stolen facebook/photobucket photos are illegal, should facebook/photobucket be held liable for hosting it?

No.


How can the same picture be child pornography on reddit, but legitimate content on facebook?


I never said it was legitimate content on Facebook. I said Facebook shouldn't be liable.

Are you reading any of my replies? Or do you already have your answer formulated in your head before I type anything?


>I said the majority of them were illegal.

Right, so how many of them have you looked at to make that judgement?

And perhaps more importantly, isn't it slightly problematic (or at least odd) when a large number of people are justifying the ban by calling this material illegal... and to be able to argue that they must, surely, have committed the crime of viewing child pornography online themselves? (Keeping in mind that, when it comes to child pornography laws, viewing is very much a crime - it's not like witnessing a murder.)


>Right, so how many of them have you looked at to make that judgement?

Enough to determine there was no intent to post legal content.

>And perhaps more importantly, isn't it slightly problematic (or at least odd) when a large number of people are justifying the ban by calling this material illegal... and to be able to argue that they must, surely, have committed the crime of viewing child pornography online themselves?

A large number of people are saying this material wasn't illegal. They must surely have viewed it themselves, as well. Where does that get us?


Were the photos taken for that purpose? I find the idea repulsive that inappropriate and deviant collection could change the legality of the photos.


To be honest, I don't feel comfortable researching cases where someone was prosecuted for owning a collection of images that, on their own, would not constitute child pornography.


They are cracking down on illegal speech (in the form of blatant CP) in addition to legal speech (in the form of suggestive, but non-pornographic pictures anyone under 18).

EDIT: Unless I am mistaken?


You might want to review the Dost test & some of the links I & others have posted in this thread. It's very possible that what you think of as child pornography may only be a subset of what the law holds to be illegal.


Pornographic images are more broadly defined than i had previously realized. Free speech is more restricted under case law than i had imagined, too; if it is "obscene" it can be banned. Not sure if i agree with that, but it is what it is.


It's not my understanding that there was actual verified child pornography on the site that wasn't being removed when it was discovered. There were photo groups on the site with questionably legal photos of clothed underage children.

I always assumed those Reddit groups were serving as honeypots to nab child pornographers once enough information could be gathered. I'd be really surprised if Reddit didn't have an information sharing deal worked out with the Feds like 4chan did a while back, considering the high visibility of certain groups like r/jailbait and the like.

My only thinking on the reason for this was that the bad publicity generated by the SA campaign was too much for the site. Once CNN picks up the story that your site is hosting child pornography, its probably best to reevaluate.


Indeed, it is quite clear this content is not illegal -- and does anyone think the authorities are not aware of these subreddits? Anderson Cooper mentioned this stuff on television, for crying out loud.

Today the reddit staff censored some unpopular content purely because it was unpopular and made them look bad.


Today the reddit staff censored some unpopular content purely because it was unpopular and made them look bad.

It's not that simple - look at all the responses in this thread. You've got plenty people here claiming that all of the content in all of those sub-reddits was clearly illegal, some people arguing that it was half and half, some arguing that it's all legit.

I don't even know what was in the sub-reddits, but I can tell you for sure that if there's this much disagreement over whether most of it is legal or not, that's a nasty legal minefield that I certainly would not want to make decisions about, especially given that I'd be risking both my company and my own freedom if I happened to make a mistake and let something prosecutable through. Not to mention that I'm sure there was a lot of work involved in deciding these things on a case-by-case basis.

Personally, I'd be much more comfortable with the situation if Reddit had decided early on to place a blanket ban on these types of sub-reddits under this justification, rather than waiting until the PR shitstorm started up, but even if it is just a face-saving move at this point, I think the logic is pretty sound. I think other user-submitted content sites would probably be wise to adopt this sort of policy, even if Reddit screwed up and was too lenient at the start.


It's irrelevant what the people here or elsewhere think -- as you say there are many dissenting opinions but very few professional legal opinions.

Rather than dally with opinions, let's stick to facts: The authorities will shut down sites with illegal activities and the authorities are aware of these subreddits. The authorities did not intervene.

Regarding your comfort with blanket bans, you may want to read this other article recently posted to HN which offers a much more insightful analysis: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3585997


But it is the right thing to do. It obviously is. Why do you think it isn’t?


Are you w1ntermute of binrev fame?


What about the freedom of the children in the pornographic images? That important to you?

Something Awful/SRS launched the campaign, because all efforts to curb these images had failed, so they took it upon themselves - as a last frustrated resort - to bring people's attention to this.


    > What about the freedom of the children in the
    > pornographic images? That important to you?
The OP explicitly stated that he believes anything legal should be allowed. At any rate, this kind of remark really doesn't facilitate the kind of thoughtful discussion we, as a community, ought to strive for.

Interestingly enough, though, by outright banning suggestive images of minors, you are limiting "the freedom of the children," their freedom of expression. It's for the greater good, of course. ;)


He's making it an issue of censorship, when the whole reason for this is the child pornography on the website to which this is juxtaposed. The admins have chosen to use a wide net in this case, presumably because they don't have the resources to fine-comb subreddits to determine whether they meet the criteria for child pornography.

The concept of censorship and impediment of free speech on a privately held site whose owners are free to do as they please without curbing the constitutional fifth-amendment right of their users is also to blow this completely out of proportions and miss the point entirely.

EDIT: alienth confirms my presumption in the first paragraph: http://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/pmk22/admins...


[deleted]



Even if the questionable content was legal I still support this. I don't think a website is under any obligation to allow content they don't want strictly to protect free speech. They don't want people posting sexually suggestive images of kids? That's their prerogative.


What the hell?!

Is it really so hard to believe that some people honestly think that Reddit should have no Subreddits explicitly catering to pedophiles?

Yes, I’m for Reddit taking away the freedom of pedophiles to share photos on Reddit, even if those photos happen to be legal more often than not. Is that really such an outrageous position? Why should Reddit allow everything? I don’t understand the premise. I think there is nothing wrong with asking a medium to have reasonable policies.

Reddit did the right thing. Finally. It took ’em long enough. It’s quite sad that it took a coordinated attack to show the admins what’s obvious.


Is it really so hard to believe that some people honestly think that reddit should have no Subreddits explicity catering to hackers?

Yes, I'm for Reddit taking away the freedom of hackers to share code on Reddit, even if that code happen to be legal more often than not. Is that really such an outrageous position?

---

Yes, I'm for Reddit taking away the freedom of religious people to share their religious ideas, even if those religious ideas happen to be legal (and not constitute a hate-crime) more often than not.

---

Yes, I'm for Reddit taking away the freedom of <insert minority interest group here> to share <material>, even if that <material> happens to be legal.


I am one who has pushed for removal of specific /r/ for some time. Specifically, /r/picsofdeadkids as well as most recently stating we should both delete /r/preteen_girls as well as the community to have ability to vote to close/delete /r/.

In the past, when I was against /r/picsofdeadkids - my comments were voted down with arguments of "I may not agree with what you say, but ill defend your right to say it"

I know it is a slippery slope, censorship, but I don't feel that standards == censorship. These people would be free to start whatever site/forum they like - but to argue that the platform that reddit provides should be wholly open to ANYTHING without standards is just plain stupid.

I am very pleased with such a direction. Again, if you're the sick POS that needs extremely fringe content - then go host it yourself.

Don't play victim that a public forum is actually telling you there is something WRONG with your interests - maybe its a freaking SIGN that people are offended by what you think normal.


Many of the comments on the post are disgusting. People being downvoted for supporting the removal of subreddits such as r/beatingwomen and r/beatingtrannies under the guise of supporting free speech (which isn't really a viable point on a website).


> which isn't really a viable point on a website

It's a viable point on a website like reddit, which built its community on a no-censorship basis. They're free to do with their business as they like, but I'm free to feel betrayed when they do.


You feel betrayed when a site like reddit says that child porn is bad, but I'd be willing to bet everything that you have a facebook account which sells you, your likeness and your personal data and you couldn't give a shit when they alter their privacy policies.


>You feel betrayed when a site like reddit says that child porn is bad

No, I feel betrayed when reddit, a community that grew because it did not limit expression that was within the law, bans "suggestive or sexual content featuring minors", which is way, way broader than child porn - an umbrella so broad that it even covers news stories about sexual abuse.

>but I'd be willing to bet everything that you have a facebook account which sells you, your likeness and your personal data and you couldn't give a shit when they alter their privacy policies.

I do have a facebook account, and the fact that I do give a shit about its privacy policies is why I basically use it when there's no other way to get in touch with someone. This is, of course, utterly irrelevant. Why are you even bringing it up?


Exactly.

While we have RES - we really need a meta-reddit at this point that will only show quality content.

I think of HN's post rules as == to /r/AskScience where they have strict standards.

I am a mod on a rather popular /r/ and while I am liberal in what I allow in that /r/ -- I apply standards though I am very lucky thus far that it is not abused.


I think there's serious potential for a business to build a general-purpose Reddit-like community that applies high standards across the board. And then sells targeted advertising to that desirable audience.

Hands-on moderation is a must, but I also think there's plenty of interesting possibilities for self-moderation that go beyond simple, equally weighted up/down votes that only serve to encourage low effort content and the regurgitation of memes.


>Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.

It's good to see that smut like Romeo and Juliet is no longer welcome on reddit.


Before you start heaping it on Reddit for "child porn", think about the prevalent sexualization of girls in the US society. I just saw the movie "Journey to Mysterious Island" with my son and the outfit that Vanessa Hudgens, who was playing a 16 year-old girl, had to endure during the whole movie was mind-boggling: Short-shorts and tank top strategically altered to tease with cleavage. There were many shots focusing on her thighs and breasts.


[deleted]


Edit: The parent comment, which has since been deleted, read:

>It's occurred to me that r/jailbait is significantly tamer than the video for Britney Spears's "Baby One More Time".

Except that the actors in that video agreed to be recorded and broadcast, and were (presumably, I haven't got any citations) over the age of majority.

The pictures in /r/jailbait are, overwhelmingly, of people under the age of consent, and are being viewed and distributed without the consent or knowledge of the people in them.

While the content may be "tamer", those pictures are still being viewed for sexual gratification.


I've never browsed reddit (seriously.. A link to an Ama here and there and that's it), so these particular images are unfamiliar to me. That said:

"The pictures in /r/jailbait are, overwhelmingly, of people under the age of consent"

=> How can you tell? Which law applies? The reddit link (heh.. the one submitted on top) discusses vastly different laws in different countries. If it's legal to take nude (I understand the pictures weren't, but let me make this point) picture of yourself with 15 or 16 according to local laws and you post it to the internet, is it 'child pornography'?

"and are being viewed and distributed without the consent or knowledge of the people in them."

=> How is that determined? You might very well be correct, but is that really a fact or a possibility?

"While the content may be "tamer", those pictures are still being viewed for sexual gratification."

=> What does that even change? Pictures in the wild are used in all kinds of ways. Maybe you end up being a poster in a 16 year old girls room. Or as a backing of a dart board. Or someone gets 'sexual gratification' from your G+ or Facebook pictures. That doesn't change the pictures in the slightest. It's a reception on the other side. You cannot possible predict that, have no say in it.


True. I wasn't defending the tasteless content that some subreddits had (and, in some cases, continuing to have) but was pointing out that the phenomenon is not constrained to redditors with "unnatural appetites", i.e. mainstream media, commonly exploit it, e.g. the Vanity Fair topless photoshoot of Miley Cyrus who was 15 at the time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miley_Cyrus#Controversies).

The interesting part is that it's not always clear to me why this exploitation is done, i.e. why dress the girl in the Mystery Island movie so provocatively (target age is probably around 10) or why Vanity Fair, whose target is not teenage boys, had those photos taken, etc.

The really worrying thought is that the sexual gratification explains only part of it, the rest is the worship of the youthful energy/sexuality of teenage girls by not only men and by everyone.


> The interesting part is that it's not always clear to me why this exploitation is done

My cynical guess is that there is significant money to be made in pushing girls towards early sexualization. The idea is to get them worrying about sexuality, and all of the things they think they need to do in order to be considered sexually attractive. This would include things like hair products, lipstick, and clothing. By creating this association between the mere ideas of "sexy" and "what everyone's already doing," they can instill a deep sense of status anxiety at an early age. This anxiety is not only easy to create (as the age group is highly hormonal), it feeds off of existing social hierarchies that are emerging. And, I believe, the advertiser hopes it is the beginning of a lifelong addiction to buying things in order to feel worthwhile.

I hope you don't take this to be hyperbole; I'm actually surprised it came out as dark as it did. But, now that I think of it, it is violence against the soul, and thus, evil.


This discussion of whether the content is legal or not isn't very constructive. Clearly Reddit has to ban illegal content. However, they also have to uphold community standards and enforce rules which keep more toxic parts of the community in line. Allowing pseudo-child porn creates a meeting place for pedophiles and that is likely not a liability that Reddit wants to take on.


Allowing /r/trees creates a meeting place for illegal drug users and that is likely not a liability that Reddit wants to take on. Indeed, quite similar to how people were accused of trading child porn on Reddit, people set up drug deals on Reddit.

etc etc etc. It's a slippery slope.


The difference is in the effort required to moderate the content. An /r/trees worst case scenario is two people meeting up to perform an illegal activity at a later point. An /r/jailbait worst case scenario is illegal material being indexed by the site.

Additionally, /r/trees isn't generating hundreds of flagged threads for review by the admins (who are then forced to spend man hours browsing pictures of under-aged girls).


Don't forget about /r/niggers et al


But what is illegal content?

Is it Adolph's Mein Komp? Is it Mohammad's Koran? Is it some words form a Journalist praying to some god other than Allah?

Please enlighten everyone on what illegal content is..

US Law is based on possession..


What alarms me about this is that Reddit has to worry about hazily-defined legal gray areas. One of the big goals of common law legal systems is to make the law and its interpretation as predictable as possible, so that people can go about their business without fear of arbitrary legal penalties. The common law may not always be just, but it should at least be consistent.


Child porn is not really a hazily defined legal gray area. The law is pretty concise on what constitutes child porn.

Possessing may be a bit murkier but only in the edge cases where the pictures were put there without the persons knowledge.

Reddit finally got shamed into taking the ultimately correct stance. Anything that vaguely smells of child porn is no longer allowed. There's no slippery slope here.


Not a gray area? The Reddit admins say otherwise, and presumably they would know what they've been dealing with:

> Beyond these clear cut cases, there is a huge area of legally grey content, and our previous policy to deal with it on a case by case basis has become unsustainable. We have changed our policy because interpreting the vague and debated legal guidelines on a case by case basis has become a massive distraction and risks reddit being pulled in to legal quagmire.

While we're at it, Neil Gaiman points out examples of several of those gray areas:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-...


I think it's been pretty well demonstrated that the Reddit admins have their heads up their asses, at least when it comes to this issue. Just stating that the law has grey areas is not evidence that the law has grey areas. It has more to do with their deliberate obtuseness toward what the law actually says.

As far as I can tell, Neil Gaiman is a really talented writer. There's nothing in his background that indicates expertise in law. Beyond that, upon reading his post, he is clearly talking about government censorship in the context of literature and graphic novels depicting sex involving minors, not the distribution of actual pornography. At one point he even concedes that he has not even looked at the site in question and cannot make a judgement on it's contents.

Really, if you're going to post a link as support for your argument, read it first and make sure it supports your argument.


Child abuse images are explicitly exempted from freedom of speech in the United States: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_excep...


You went from "Child porn is not really a hazily defined legal gray area."

to

"Anything that vaguely smells of child porn is no longer allowed."

Do you see that "anything that vaguely smells of X" is the very definition of a grey area? For example, is this a problem? http://www.reddit.com/r/toddlersandtiaras

The reddit announcement was very clear: They have always banned child pornography. They even linked to the guidelines they use to do so: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?P...

What happened today was not reddit banning child pornograpy -- it was reddit banning non-child-porn content which was overwhelmingly unpopular.


Those two statements are not contradictory.

The first is a statement of fact about the state of what constitutes child porn. Look up the statutes yourself. The link to the relevant wiki has been peppered throughout this thread.

The second is a statement on the policy reddit has introduced.

Reddit has not always banned legally defined child pornography. They've banned obvious child pornography. The kind with naked kids and actual sex. Their refusal to remove other images that, at best passed the test in the same way a D- is not a failing grade, has far more to do with their ignorance of what the law actually says and no one holding them accountable for a long time.

As far as the non-child-porn content, I'm in no way upset by these particular degenerates no longer having that avenue of access to their fap material.


> "I'm in no way upset by these particular degenerates no longer having that avenue of access to their fap material."

The banning of today's subreddits didn't bother me very much.

The proliferation of comments like these, on the other hand, have. "Degenerates" is a favourite word of, well, just about every bigot out there. It also bothers me that we've made lepers out of pedophiles, and makes me wonder if we've done more harm than good in the long run.

I'm against child porn and child exploitation, I am however adamantly against the marginalization and dehumanization of pedophiles.

> " Look up the statutes yourself."

The defining line is the Dost test, which is far from concrete. If I educated 100 randomly selected people in the US on the Dost test, and then gave them each 100 images to classify, sourced from the abovementioned subreddits, what sort of agreement do you think we'd get? Would it even come close to a consensus?

Something that is codified doesn't mean it's not in a legal grey area.

As a photography enthusiast this issue has come up more than once. You may or may not know this - but there are groups on Flickr that cater to just about every fetish and kink out there, and group moderations can "invite" an image to be added to the group's galleries. Yes, some of these involve children.

I've gotten requests in the past for perfectly innocent (in my mind) images to be added to these groups. A woman sitting casually wearing hosiery is suddenly fap material to a whole boatload of people. A child playing in the park is suddenly wildly arousing for someone else. I don't think it's at all a stretch to say that child porn, like any other fetish, is more in the eye of the beholder than anything else.

There are also substantial slippery slope concerns. It bothers me that so many have chosen to sweep these under the rug because the word "slipper slope fallacy" exists, and saying it will somehow make these concerns null and void.

After all, we are seeing calls to shut down (IMO equally reprehensible) subreddits like /r/deadbabies and /r/beatingwomen - of course, sheer legality won't help us here, as these are legally even more poorly defined than child porn. There are also complaints that /r/gayteens (not sure if I have the name correct) got shut down despite holding themselves to a strict 18+ moderation... the responses to which simply derided people for being attracted to teenaged gays.

In any case, this is anything but a clear-cut issue.


I regret that I have only one upvote to give you, because you just wrote the most insightful comment I've seen on this issue.


This is quite simply false. Reddit has always banned child pornography. The post we're discussing is quite clear on this point. There would be absolutely no outage if this was about banning child pornography.

Your statements here seem to come from a place of rage and hate moreso than rational analysis, so let's not continue this.


The law is concise but absolutely subjective. How do you objectively determine "whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer" or "whether the child is depicted (...) in inappropriate attire, considering the age of the child" ?


It's called the Reasonable Person Doctrine. Look it up.


While the Doctrine can be looked up, a reliable definition for Reasonable Person cannot. Concise != objective and static.


There were whole subreddits with questionable content? Damn, I'm surprised that they didn't take this move earlier.


For the longest time the policy was no spam, no hacking (of reddit) and nothing illegal.

Apparently they just changed the policy. I pray they do not alter it any further.


The *bait subreddits they removed were illegal.


There was nothing illegal on them. All of them were very careful to make sure of that.


Most of the images did not pass the Dost Test.[0] They were illegal.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dost_test


I disagree that the Dost Test even applies to those images. These were not "nude or seminude" images in the first place. They were, at most, girls in bikinis. These subreddits specifically did not allow semi-nudity.


The Dost test specifically mentions a minor does not have to be nude for the photograph to be considered pornography. That's just one possible criteria to consider.


You do in fact seem to be correct on that point. However, I do not think that your assertion about most of the images failing the Dost test is correct, or that you have adequate evidence to make such an assertion.

I also don't think, if it were true, that that would call for a new, sweeping policy. The rule merely needs to be "nothing illegal", and then that rule needs to be enforced. "Suggestive content featuring minors" is just insanely broad.


The rule itself is broad, and could encompass things like popular cartoons, artistic works, and even clips from television shows that hint at sexuality. However, that's not how it's been enforced, and I don't see the admins using it to remove those things. The issue is "borderline" material that would take careful consideration as to whether or not it is pornographic.

As I touched on in another comment, I doubt a father posting an album of his vacation to /r/pics that happens to have his 12 and 16 year old daughters in swimsuits in it would be against this rule. However, someone posting an album filled with candid photographs of minors in swimwear at the beach would probably be removed, even if the person who posted it would not be prosecuted under US law.

If you feel that course of action is against this person's right, for whatever reason, that's fine. But please, do not think this is some slippery slope to a prude reddit. Just because the admins are removing what is— at very best— child erotica doesn't mean they're bending to the will of some overbearing "Please, think of the children!" mentality. The stuff removed was truly perverse and unsettling and brought nothing of value to the community.

If you wish to discuss this further, there exists [a subreddit][0] created by some of the very people who first initiated the removal of these subreddits that is open to discussion. You can find a handful of informative threads in there (and the sister subreddits) as to why [this wasn't some raid by Something Awful][1] and how some of the content posted [truly was child pornography][2]. You might have to wade through some heavy circlejerking, but if you're interested in why those subreddits were actually removed, that's a good place to start.

That was probably more than was necessary, but I'd like to use this as sort of a final comment on the subject. I'm so tired of arguing with people who feel the need to defend a person's right to post at best stolen pictures of underage children and at worst legitimate child pornography on the grounds that "maybe some of the content wasn't totally illegal!". Not saying that is you.

[0]: http://www.reddit.com/r/SRSDiscussion/

[1]: http://www.reddit.com/r/SRSMeta/comments/pody3/another_wall_...

[2]: http://www.reddit.com/r/SRSDiscussion/comments/pkq5r/here_is...


>However, that's not how it's been enforced, and I don't see the admins using it to remove those things

This is a new rule. There is no "how it's been enforced".


There is. They didn't introduce the rule without enforcing it. The initial subreddits removed are evidence of their enforcement of said rule.


Yeah, and they continued to exist even after Anderson Cooper talked about them on CNN.


There have been for years, it wasn't until recently r/jailbait was removed. For the longest time the policy was anything legal is allowed.


> anything legal is allowed

And quite a lot that was, at the very best, ambiguous.


From what I understand, the real policy was more "Anything that you can manage to somehow twist into something that vaguely resembles legal in low-light conditions from a minimum distance of 100 feet away is allowed."


One of the remarkable things about this is that the campaign orchestrated by Something Awful users caused this happen in less than 4 hours. Even the CNN exposé took days.


On the other hand: What took ’em so long? Jailbait was shut down, what now? A few months ago?

The admins must have been aware that the exact same crap was happening in copycat subreddits all over Reddit soon after Jailbait was shut down. Why was another campaign necessary in the first place?

I don’t think the Reddit admins can take the moral high ground here. They will only do the right thing when you threaten them with bad PR.

(I’m guessing they reacted so fast this time because they know that those kinds of things can escalate quickly and national press attention is not nice to have.)


> On the other hand: What took ’em so long?

Speaking as an interested outside observer, my opinion is that the personal connections between a few of these subreddit owners and reddit's admins were a stumbling block. Business and PR is now overwhelming those friendships.


I didn't get this impression. It seemed to me that while the admins found the content personally distasteful, they did not want to erode freedom of speech. This is why it "took so long"; it was a debate, not a clear-cut decision (in their eyes).

It seems like the potential PR/legal fallout has now outweighed any philosophical musings.


It actually started a few days ago. The account creating the preteen girls subreddit and posting most of its content was 3 days old. It is very suspect and a plausible explanation is that someone from SA was running a smear campaign from the start.


These sort of subreddits have existed for years, although it is most definitely the case that the actions of Something Awful caused them to be shut down, they did not create them. For example r/teen_girls has existed for 6 months.


A smear campaign whereby a person commits an illegal act of posting child pornography?


The preteen girls subreddit didn't have anything explicitly illegal in it. Just really creepy stuff.


Do you really believe those bullshit conspiracy theories?

Yeah, right. Some goon posted CP on Reddit, causing outrage among some Reddit users but also flaming (and highly upvoted) defenses of said CP – presumably all by goons.

There were numerous jailbait subreddits for years. This is no conspiracy. That doesn’t even pass the sniff test.


If they did, good for them. While I don't normally condone the "ends justify the means" approach. I'll gladly make an exception for this one. Because of that persons effort, the world is just a bit better than it was yesterday.

Of course, for that hypothesis to work, it would have to be the only relevant subreddit in existence. In reality, almost every conceivable permutation of the turn "jailbait" had a subreddit that trafficked in the same kind of material.


Something Awful has a reputation for Internet war campaigns. (They ARE the source of 4chan IIRC.) Anything coming from SA is expected to be so bad that it's not an uncommon occurrence for sites to change (stupid) policy simply on the hype generated by a SA scheme.

What I don't understand is how a "Jailbait" thread/subreddit could really be considered "legal" since the term "Jailbait" refers to people who look like they're at the age of consent but aren't. And thus will land anyone who has...intercourse; with them in jail. So the illegality is implied in the title.


Jailbait refers to people it would be illegal to have sex with, this doesn't make pictures of them (clothed) illegal and it's only child porn when the subject is not clothed and even then they have to be engaging in sexual acts or the focus being their genitals for it to be (in the eyes of the law) child porn.

edit: see comments below, I was wrong. No idea how reddit has not been shut down then...


It's important to note that nudity is not necessary for an image to be considered child pornography.

The EFF has a really good primer on this that I saw linked on more than one occasion today: https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/adult

"Nudity is not enough for a finding that an image is lascivious, but clothing does not mean a photo is in the clear: 'a photograph of a naked girl might not be lascivious (depending on the balance of the remaining Dost factors), but a photograph of a girl in a highly sexual pose dressed in hose, garters, and a bra would certainly be found to be lascivious.'"


In theory, sure. In practice you are not likely to find a prosecutor interested in a case without some form of nudity. (background; I work in digital forensics).

Ive seen the sub-reddits in question. Most were fairly "meh", by which I mean nothing that would ever get you in court. But beneath the surface there was active trading of real CP and this, I think, was what caught SA's attention.


>Ive seen the sub-reddits in question. Most were fairly "meh", by which I mean nothing that would ever get you in court. But beneath the surface there was active trading of real CP and this, I think, was what caught SA's attention.

Please don't normalize child pornography by saying "you've got the bad stuff and then there's this..." TBH, that's part of the problem.

Perhaps it might not be prosecuted, but it's illegal nevertheless.


Not really. There is a very very big grey area in which images are "up for interpretation".

You're thinking in black/white terms; unfortunately it is not so simple.


Fortunately, it is.

Images are either child pornography or not. Lots of images are up for interpretation by the Dost test & other case law surrounding the issue, but at the end of the day, we're talking about a binary here. If someone is willing to risk hosting or viewing images that are up for interpretation, it's their own ass on the line -- but many people consistently underestimate exactly what child pornography is.

But my main issue here is that your speech normalizes child pornography. By trying to frame the issue as "gut-wrenching abuse images of young children" versus "grey area stuff", possession of the "grey area stuff" seems less bad. But that's wrong. Both categories of images represent the victimization of children, and both can land you in prison.


When we say "grey area" the test is "could this image be absolutely non-controversial in a "normal" context". For example; if you seize a computer containing lots of images of girls in swimwear the owner has some issues. But if one of those images appeared, in, say a family photo album no one would bat an eye lid.

In that case I absolutely do prefer to frame the situations differently. On the one hand we have a someone who's tastes directly drive gangs to abuse more children. On the other hand we have someone who is contributing to the violation of childrens privacy (through sites that distribute these images).

At no point am I suggesting these crimes should be treated differently, just that we should consider the differences.

Both are forms of victimisation; however in the latter case the victimisation takes place after the photo is taken (when it finds its way on line) rather than at the time (when the child is being abused).

The problem here is not how I describe these. It is with a society that sees the word "Child Porn" and goes off half cock, but sees "Invasion of privacy" and "Emotional Trauma" and shrugs.

Just to be clear; I work within the field of forensics, which means that, yes, I do investigate such cases - and I am exposed to the legal structure and opinion related to these crimes. If you read over my comments carefully at no point do I try to dismiss the severity of the issue - I just gave some very brief feedback from my experience.

What I was noting, legally speaking, is that many images are in a grey area where they are not explicitly abusing a child (although they are abusive in being traded around online). If all you have in your possession are such images you will not likely see the inside of the court room.

Speaking personally I don't entirely agree with this state of affairs (perhaps I should have made that clear in the first posts :)).

EDIT: I should explain that this state of affairs has come to evolve because of how juries tend to react to CP prosecutions. If the case involves images of children being abused sexually then the defendant is seen as reprehensible/evil. On the other hand, if all you have is a collection of - individually innocuous - pictures of kids the defendant tends to be seen as having more of a mental issue, and elicits sympathy - "he didn't actually hurt anyone". The jury, obviously, fails to see the secondary abuse in distributing the image.

I don't think you can prosecute someone for being attracted to children, that would be thought crime and is a slippery slope. But clearly, participating in sites that distribute those images are is reprehensible abuse of another sort - and that is what they need to be punished for.


Thanks for the inside view on things. It sounds we're definitely speaking from the same position, and I'm glad that we agree on the meat of the argument.

I'm going to grab my soapbox and expand where I'm coming from regarding the normalization of child pornography. By allowing a de facto distinction to exist between hardcore abusive pornography and other forms, we are essentially saying that some types of child pornography are okay. This primes individuals to regard possession as acceptable; this is why reddit's inaction until now was so reprehensible.

I understand that the legal system is unlikely to investigate cases of child pornography that don't consist of egregious child abuse. That's fair. The legal system has a limited amount of time & money. But the moment we allow people to mistake this inaction for tolerance is the moment everything starts to go wrong.

But again - it looks like we're on the same page, and I definitely appreciate the inside view you bring.


Patently false. It doesn't have to be nude to be child porn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dost_test


Ignoring the legality of it for a minute. The title "Jailbait" implies sexualization (My spell checker insists this is not a word, but it's meaning should be obvious to infer.) of the images within. Even if the images were all "legal" by the standards of United States law, (I'm assuming Reddit is hosted in the US.) they're still being used to fuel sexual fantasies related to the images. As I understand it the reason that child pornography is illegal is because it's distribution and consumption encourages the sexual abuse of children worldwide. If the end result of the Reddit "Jailbait" subthread is sexual fantasies of children, then the damage done is the same. For example, if the FBI seizes your computer and finds a file labelled "Porn" on your hard drive full of images like children tricycling around a neighborhood, your almost certainly going to be asked about it in the police interview(s) even if it's not necessarily prosecutable.

Everything thats illegal isn't necessarily immoral; and everything thats legal isn't exactly moral either. The sexualization of children is immoral, legal or not.


distribution and consumption encourages the sexual abuse of children worldwide

That's the assumption, but not every expert agrees: http://human-stupidity.com/stupid-dogma/child-porn-witch-hun...


Jailbait refers to adolescents, not children, which is relevant if you are doing a moral not legal analysis.


True. However, the years between childhood and adolescent are blurry. This is the reason you have the term "Jailbait" in the first place. Some people are "late bloomers" and look like children well into their teens. Others end up looking like they've reached the age of consent, but haven't; the "Jailbait". I think that in general sexualizing the under 18 crowd should be avoided. (Even if the age of consent is lower than that.) Just because of how blurry these lines are.


> Something Awful has a reputation for Internet war campaigns.

Note this hasn't been true for many years.

They do have an extremely parochial attitude towards other general interest forums, and their dislike of Reddit is in the same vein as making fun of Fark/Ebaumworld/etc. The jailbait thing is just the one point they have broader PR traction on.



I think there have been a few high profile posts/submissions over the last couple of days related to child porn on Reddit so it has been a big issue the last 48 hours.


Wasn't the CNN expose pretty much the culmination of an earlier SA campaign?


I may have missed some of the context here, but it looks like SA was able to force a significant policy change at Reddit in less than a single day. I know there was a lot of lead up, but still, wow. They obviously take the "goons" quite seriously!


I can relate to the decision Reddit made. Moderating the content on a forum is alot of work and it's frustrating. Eliminating the grey area is probably the safest move (on a legal stand point) although it will create many angry users that feel entitled. Expect mass bannings because users love to rebel then afterwards the inevitable "well you removed this but allow that" arguments.


I honestly cannot believe this was not already a policy at reddit.


Scumbag Reddit

Freaks out about anti-childporn laws

Bans pics of 18+ teenagers in bathing suits


Funny that they knew the 3 day old subreddit before everyone else.


Subreddits focusing on jailbait have been on reddit for a lot longer than 3 days.




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