Reddit has begun removing moderator teams that manage subreddits that switched the labels on their communities to Not Safe For Work (NSFW) during the latest protests against the site. In addition to applying an age limit to desktop viewers and restricting access on mobile devices to logged-in users in the Reddit app, Reddit also does not show ads on subreddits tagged as NSFW. This reduces its ability to monetize it, which is a key part of Reddit’s contentious push to charge apps for using the API.
CEO Steve Huffman told me in an interview last week, “More than 90 percent of Reddit users are on our platform, contributing and monetizing through ads or Reddit Premium. Why should we subsidize this small group? Why should we effectively pay them to use Reddit, but not everyone who also contributes to Reddit?”
“Moderators falsely flagging a community as NSFW is a violation of both of us Content Policy And Moderator Code of Conductsaid Reddit spokesman Tim Rathschmidt The edge. He declined to comment when asked if Reddit had removed the mods.
According to a post in r/ModCoord (coordination moderator), moderators of r/MildlyInteresting continued on Tuesday to change the sub to NSFW after a user vote. By making that change, r/MildlyInteresting followed the steps of other subreddits that recently went NSFW, including r/interestingasfuck and r/TIHI (Thanks I Hate It).
However, according to the now former r/MildlyInteresting mod who wrote the post, just after switching the subreddit, they were logged out of their account and locked out. It quickly became apparent that admins employed by Reddit (as opposed to the mods, who don’t work for Reddit) were involved:
After this, another mod posted our update. Immediately after the u/ModCode of Conduct (a Reddit admin account) account deleted the message and turned the sub back to limited instead of public. Subsequently, the second moderator was also logged out of their account and locked out. Other mods tried to re-approve the post, one of them was promptly logged out and also locked out.
After that, according to the former r/MildlyInteresting mod, the the entire mod team has been removed from the subreddit. As I write this, r/MildlyInteresting, which has over 22 million subscribers, says it is currently unmoderated. The mod says that the entire team has been suspended for 7 days.
Apparently it’s not just r/MildlyInteresting. Subscribers, including r/interestingasfuck (11 million subscribers), r/TIHI (1.7 million subscribers), and r/ShittyLifeProTips (1.6 million subscribers), all of whom had gone NSFW or relaxed their rules, are currently not being moderated.
The removal of mods is perhaps Reddit’s biggest move to date against its moderators, who are unpaid volunteers who sometimes devote years of their lives to managing these communities. Some mods said they felt threatened by messages sent out by the company last week indicating that it would be firing moderators who haven’t worked to reopen their communities, and now that it’s a reality, the ramifications for those communities could be huge.