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Layer is a new art project between creative software developer Adobe and Reddit. On the Layer subreddit, users can post drawings within a large, shared canvas. As illustrated by a tutorial and welcome post on the subreddit, the drawings are uploaded directly via the subreddit so posting whatever image your heart desires is open to anyone with a Reddit account.
Unfortunately, things are already starting to go awry.
Although the subreddit has only been around for a little over a day, individuals attempting to poison the well of this interactive experience are uploading concealed, offensive content.
A quick perusal of the canvas’ recent layers will show you a whole host of subtle, coded dogwhistles.
Several “pool’s closed” messages have been uploaded to the canvas. “Pool’s closed” is a reference to an activity that malicious users of the children’s online game Habbo Hotel commit by standing in the formations of swastikas inside pools in the game’s world. Additionally, several actual swastikas have been added to the canvas.: Users have been adding drawings of swastikas in an eye-catching color.
Although the subreddit does have specific rules as set by the moderators, “create and have fun, but be good to each other” and “be civil” appear to be too lax and vague to prevent more offensive material. With over 75,000 layers currently on the canvas, it’s clear that Adobe and Reddit were seeking and expecting to get a collective amalgamation of what the internet looks like through compact and condensed symbols. And that’s exactly what they’re getting, warts and all.
Ignacio Martinez is a reporter specializing in online gaming and political communities. His work has previously appeared in the Texas Observer and on the airwaves at KVRX 91.7 FM. He is based in Austin, Texas, and you can follow him on Twitter at @NacioMartinez.