On October 27th 2020 I was watching the absolutely fantastic independent news show America Uncovered with Chris Chappell and in the open remarks of a Hunter Biden news piece was a passing mention of sex videos being published from Hunter’s notorious laptop. I was curious, was this actually true? It took me 15 minutes of googling and a lot of very shady links to eventually stumble across the gtv.org hosting service that is publishing these videos.
No matter if these are deepfake deepstate foreign forgeries or not, I thought this content was newsworthy. If millions of people see these videos eventually one of them will be a forensic analyst interested in proving or disproving their legitimacy. Or, of course, Hunter Biden could reject or cement their legitimacy in a few words.
These videos were not newsworthy simply because of the embarrassing sexual acts, nor because of the drug use, but because this videos showcase an important incompatibility between the ostensible public image of Hunter Biden that Joe Biden would like to portray and the private cavalier attitude of the person captured in these videos. After watching just a small handful of these videos there’s no way to harbor a belief that this man is competent, intelligent, or having enough consciousness to understand why it’s critical to guard your nearly 50,000 embarrassing photos as your father runs for the most powerful job in the country - especially when put into context of his ex-wife’s accusations. Simply put, individuals who are not personally responsible are almost never professionally responsible. Professionally irresponsible people do not by accident end up courting lucrative foreign deals. The person in the videos smoking crack while getting a foot job does not strike me as someone who in their professional life is able to successfully add sufficient value to foreign billion dollar companies to justify a high salary. It seems completely apparent that his high salary was not because of his business acumen, but family connections.
Regardless of the conclusions one would surmise after watching these videos, there’s simply an element that people should know where to find these videos without going through a series of shady links. As I browsed reddit that night, I came across a thread in /r/politicalcompassmemes with a meme on social media censorship and posted in a comment a link to gtv.org, then moved on to continue browsing Reddit.
Minutes later I noticed a red bar across reddit saying “Your account has been permanently suspended from Reddit.”
My first reaction was basically “LOL - I guess I’ll delete that comment.” Only to find out that there really is no recourse.
My account was almost certainly blocked by a script - no warning, no opportunity for correction, no hiding just that one comment, just a straight ban that I assume was based upon the domain I posted.
There’s a form that can be filled out to “appeal” the process. I submitted the form, offered an apology that I genuinely didn’t know that this content was prohibited, and that I used this 8-year old account to moderate two communities - and I was denied. I received my denial of appeal very late in the evening in the pacific time zone, which gave me comfort that Reddit’s Anti-Evil team was diligently working hard into the wee-AM hours (I’m assuming they’re East Coast) do the hard work of reviewing auto bans. Really made me feel…special. Not like some late night mid-shift SRE worker was just clicking through a list “Deny, deny, deny, deny.”
I think a pretty quick look at my account would show I’m a user in good standing, with a long history of contributions, but obviously Reddit doesn’t care about my contributions to their platform because just one time I stepped out of line.
Soooo….. That’s what happened to my account, and now I’ll be migrating my content to this platform. I chose this platfrom exclusively because of Glenn Greenwald publishing here, who I admire deeply. I’ll probably still re-post these articles over to /r/portland as I’ve been contributing as an independent journalist/writer online for over a decade now and I have a number of people on that subreddit who have explicitly told me how much they appreciate my work.
Honestly, it’s all kind of relieving. I’m going to miss certain elements of reddit’s smaller communities, as it’s the last platform that allows for deep commentary and complex exchanges online. But since 2015 it’s been completely clear that Reddit’s administration team has developed a political bias and has been actively excluding more and more users. It’s been clear that Reddit knows of, and explicitly allows, vote manipulation and brigading, and does nothing to stop it (in part, I assume, because this brigading often aligns with their own socio-cultural views). The best thing reddit really offered was exposure, as occsasionally my work would get thousands of views.
Reddit’s community really came from the downfall of Digg and I think most people are really waiting on a brand new wave of social media. Much like how people want a Facebook/Youtube that is more privacy focused, I think many people are waiting for a new content aggregator that offers pseudonymity, long form content exchanges, and a strong sense of community. This next site probably won’t come out of a backlash against Reddit (like Voat.co - a hilariously bad website terribly entrenched with racism and bots) but instead through new features and a better way of surfacing community interactions.
Until that new platform comes along, I think the path Reddit is on is very predictable. Censorship is going to continue (likely with /r/politicalcompassmemes and firearm related subreddits on the next chopping block) with certain attitudes protected, non-conformist attitudes put down. Reddit thrived because of it’s community of users who were commited to long-form thoughtful exchanges and communal effort to promote accurate and useful commentary. Today’s reddit reads like a propaganda tool, users are less interested in accuracy and utility more interested in finding opinions that support their preconcieved notions. This will create more and more echo chambers and exclude the skeptical and thoughtful folks who favored reddit over other social media platforms.