reddit shuts down subreddit that showcased celebrities’ stolen nude photos
Nearly a week after female celebrities’ nude photos were stolen and shared across the Internet, reddit has banned the subreddit that helped to distribute them.
The reddit group /r/TheFappening and related subreddits were banned on Saturday night after reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted a blog titled “Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul.” The blog explained why the company is unlikely to make changes to its policies because of one incident.
In an update to the blog post, Wong wrote that the subreddit was banned because it violated rules unrelated to being a center for people to access stolen nude photos of female celebrities. He wrote that he disagrees with the distribution of stolen images, yet believes that reddit is a place for people to distribute media (and in this case, stolen nude photos):
While current US law does not prohibit linking to stolen materials, we deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution.
Nevertheless, reddit’s platform is structurally based on the ability for people to distribute, promote, and highlight textual materials as well as links to images and other media. We understand the harm that misusing our site does to the victims of this theft, and we deeply sympathize.
The company has said it removed photos over the past week when it received DMCA requests from owners. Last week, 4chan adopted a DMCA policy in the wake of the apparent release of the photos on the site’s /b/ Web forum.
Meanwhile, Jason Harvey, systems administrator for reddit, posted a lengthy explanation behind the ban and the story of how reddit dealt with the incident. Harvey wrote that if reddit did not ban the group, the company would have had to closely monitor the subreddits:
The answer is probably not satisfying, but it’s the truth, and the only answer we’ve got. The situation we had in our hands was the following: These subreddits were of course the focal point for the sharing of these stolen photos. The images which were DMCAd were continually being reposted constantly on the subreddit. We would takedown images (thumbnails) in response to those DMCAs, but it quickly devolved into a game of whack-a-mole. We’d execute a takedown, someone would adjust, reupload, and then repeat. This same practice was occurring with the underage photos, requiring our constant intervention. The mods were doing their best to keep things under control and in line with the site rules, but problems were still constantly overflowing back to us. Additionally, many nefarious parties recognized the popularity of these images, and started spamming them in various ways and attempting to infect or scam users viewing them. It became obvious that we were either going to have to watch these subreddits constantly, or shut them down. We chose the latter. It’s obviously not going to solve the problem entirely, but it will at least mitigate the constant issues we were facing. This was an extreme circumstance, and we used the best judgement we could in response.
The reddit user who created the main subreddit, johnsmcjohn, doesn’t seem too pleased with the ban. In an AMA, he wrote, “Being part of reddit history is why I want this sub to continue. We have had the fastest growing sub of all time, and more than 250,000,000 page views in less than a week. I want this to keep going.”