At the end of August, Reddit users told the company’s leadership they had blood on their hands. As part of an organized protest, the moderators of dozens of large subreddits, or forums on the site, shared a letter condemning Reddit for failing to act on the “rampant” spread of COVID-19 misinformation and allowing conspiracy-minded anti-vaccine subreddits to proliferate. The letter emphasized that vaccines are safe, masks are effective, and social-distancing measures are useful. “Subreddits which exist solely to spread medical disinformation and undermine efforts to combat the global pandemic should be banned,” it said.
Reddit’s CEO, Steve Huffman, responded with his own open letter noting that “dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy,” and that those who disagree with the CDC are not violating the site’s policies. Shortly after his post, many of the moderators who had shared the letter shut down their subreddits in outrage. (The blackout protest included the 3.3-million-member forum for Pokémon Go, which became its own news item.) In the end, Huffman did take action.