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Subreddits Are Going Private in Response to an Automatic Ban Rule

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Mar. 24 2021, Published 2:10 p.m. ET

The world of Reddit is on fire. A number of subreddits have gone private in response to a new rule instituted by Reddit. The saga behind the decision that r/TikTokCringe and other subreddits have taken to go private is long and complex, but it began with what Reddit claims was the doxxing of one of their employees. Those who have turned their pages private have done so in protest over Reddit's actions in the aftermath of that doxxing. 

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Why is the TikTok Cringe subreddit now private?

TikTok Cringe was one of many subreddits to go private in recent days in response to the banning of a Reddit moderator who posted an article that mentioned Reddit employee Aimee Knight (née Challenor). Aimee was not mentioned in the context of Reddit, and she was not the focus of the article, but the moderator was automatically banned anyway before eventually being reinstated. 

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In response, the subreddit on U.K. politics decided to make its page private in order to protect its users from being banned by Reddit's administrators.  

"It later became apparent that Reddit has hired this individual as an Reddit admin, and were banning people from discussing her past to protect their employee from harassment," the subreddit moderators wrote after making the page private. 

After r/ukpolitics went private, dozens of other popular subreddits went private as well. The U.K. politics moderators also asked other Reddit users not to mention Aimee's name or ask too many questions about why their page was now private for fear of causing more bans.

As it turns out, the decision to ban the U.K. politics moderator had major ramifications for the entire Reddit platform.  

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Why is Aimee Knight's name so controversial?

The reason Reddit is so concerned about its users harassing Aimee, who now works for the company, is because of her past as a public figure. Her name has caused such controversy because of her works a politician in the U.K. Initially, she was a member of the Green Party, and ran for elected office with her father serving as her election agent. 

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Aimee allowed her father to serve in that role in spite of her knowledge that he had been convicted and imprisoned for raping and torturing a 10-year-old girl. Aimee's knowledge of her father's criminal history ultimately led to her suspension from the Green Party, and she later joined the Liberal Democrats. Aimee was eventually suspended from that party as well, and eventually moved to the US and took a job at Reddit. 

Reddit responded to the subreddits going private.

Given Aimee's history, it's easy to see why many were upset that they were being banned for merely mentioning her name. In response to the controversy, Reddit posted a response.  

‘Earlier this month, a Reddit employee was the target of harassment and doxxing (sharing of personal or confidential information)," the statement read.

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"Reddit activated standard processes to protect the employee from such harassment, including initiating an automated moderation rule to prevent personal information from being shared, " it continued. "The moderation rule was too broad, and this week it incorrectly suspended a moderator who posted content that included personal information. After investigating the situation, we reinstated the moderator the same day." 

If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online with a support specialist at any time.

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