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Anatomy of a manufactured controversy (3)

Reddit's administrators did not cater to the whims of the "fempire" by bringing the ban hammer down on everything they wanted gone. In response, r/shitredditsays went into overdrive with a little noticed and highly ineffective campaign against their parent site, complete with efforts to contact media outlets and even Reddit's advertisers. Another article appeared on Jezabel, this time praising the efforts of r/shitredditsays with the headline "Reddit Users Go Rogue, Revolt Against Sick Child Porn Forums." 

The first half of the post is dedicated to ridiculing reddit in general, followed by a list of the offending subreddits, and a description of the Project Panda effort to bring them all down. Highlighted in the story is a quote from one redditor encouraging others to contact and manipulate the members of churches and local parent-teacher associations, as well as administrators at universities, and to contact media outlets with the story. The quote finishes with an excited tone, "Do you know how BORING local news is? Can you imagine if your local news could run a "IS YOUR CHILD POSTING IN A PEDOPHILE WEBSITE? STATISTICALLY THERE'S AN 80% CHANCE!" story? Holy shitballs they'd be all over it."

Here, we have our first taste of ego-centric sensationalism in the story: redditors planning to use exaggerated to fictional scare tactics on parents and teachers as a means of attacking disapproved posting by fellow redditors.  

Up to this point, the effort was largely about censorship. The SRS outcry over voyeur subreddits included a mix of legitimate complaints and hyperbole. Images of teens in school were protested side by side with photographs of adults. The group tossed around descriptive words in discussion to associate negative connotations with the subreddits they disapprove. Subjective terms and phrases like creepy, sexualized, quazi-pornographic, predatory, and sexually suggestive were applied to photos of clothed people in ordinary circumstances, like this image from one of the demonized subs:
Mom! Reddit is staring at me again! Make it stop!
Reality check: Is it illegal for an adult to look at an ordinary, clothed photo of a teen? No. Was posting photos like the above illegal? No. Was the choice by some redditors to take photos at school and post them online something that should have been addressed in this manner? No. That is an issue for school administrators to address with the students directly, an action which would have followed a properly executed awareness campaign, had one been used.

Were there aspects of these subs which deserved Project Panda's attention?


This was actually worth addressing. As the originator of this post, SpencerTracyMorgan (creep shamer extraordinaire, according to the flair that shows up on r/shitredditsays) says in the text, Weagleweaglewde was in position of power - a teacher, in charge of classrooms. Publishing photos of his students online was an abuse of that power. Those involved in Project Panda were right to hone in on that lead and pursue it.

The situation came to a head when a student at a Georgia high school recognized fellow students, figured out who was posting, and alerted school administrators, leading to the teacher's subsequent firing as well as a criminal investigation. A rule on r/creepshots was posted stating that no photos of minors were to be posted; only images of adults were acceptable, and another moderator was brought in to ensure the content was limited to legal images which fit within that rule.

That sounds like a victory. The concerned citizens of Reddit addressed a legitimate issue within the community and inspired a shady subreddit to clean up its act. Time to move on to the next target, possibly to address Reddit's serious fusking problem, right?

Well, no. Not exactly.

Jezebel's post on the successful removal of the creep-shot teacher was more of a complaint about the continued existence of the forum. As if the distinction of legality were irrelevant, author Erin Gloria Ryan blazed past the victory into a feminist rant insinuating that the admonition that public places are public equals an assertion that women are public property.

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