Reddit closes subreddit against covid measures after ‘brigading’

Reddit has banned the largest anti-corona forum /r/NoNewNormal. 54 other subreddits have also been quarantined. The decision comes days after Reddit said it wouldn’t ban subreddits for spreading fake news, though the ban is about something else.

NoNewNormal has been banned for brigadeing other subreddits, the social network writes. Reddit says it has analyzed subreddits that have spoken out against corona measures or are spreading misinformation about the virus or the vaccinations against it. The network admits that a few “high signal subs” are responsible for much of the contrarian views surrounding corona across the entire Reddit platform.

Still, that’s not what NoNewNormal has been banned for. The subreddit has been banned because at least eighty times a brigade has been run by NoNewNormal on other subreddits in the past month. In brigading, the members of one community flood another community. “NoNewNormal is the only subreddit on our list of high signal subs where we’ve seen this behavior, and it’s one of the largest sources of community interference we’ve seen in our research,” the network writes.

NoNewNormal was by far the largest community on the platform where misinformation about corona was spread. The subreddit had over 122,000 subscribers. With a ban on Reddit, a subreddit can no longer be visited and posts will be removed. Subscribers will not lose their Reddit account.

In addition to the NoNewNormal ban, Reddit has also quarantined 54 subreddits. That is a tool that has been in existence since 2015. Quarantined subreddits can only be visited if users explicitly choose to do so, and they no longer appear on the home page or in the /r/all directory. The subreddits have been quarantined for breaking the platform’s rule 1, which states that users should not harass other users. Reddit doesn’t list which subreddits will be quarantined, but does say they are subs that deny covid. Finally, the platform is also building new resources for moderators to make it easier for them to pass on brigading.

While NoNewNormal’s ban is not directly related to misinformation, the action is inextricably linked to a massive outcry from dozens of major subreddits that took place earlier this week. Some of the biggest subreddits, including r/futurology and /r/tifu, went black this week. They did so after previously urging Reddit to take action specifically against /r/NoNewNormal. Reddit took no action on that, as the platform said it wanted to respect free speech. Reddit doesn’t mention that protest anywhere in the new post.