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The The_Donald subreddit has long been an oasis for supporters of President Donald Trump and the MAGA mindset. Wednesday, the subreddit was quarantined after users called for violence against Oregon police and other public officials.
The official reasoning Reddit gives for quarantining The_Donald is "threats of violence against police and public officials."— /r/The_Donald (@thedonaldreddit) June 26, 2019
First, The_Donald is likely one of the most Pro-LEO communities on the internet. It's pretty clear that Reddit is just slandering us with that alone. 1/7
Now, when attempting to visit The_Donald, you are greeted with a message of precaution stating that the subreddit is quarantined.
Reddit states that subreddits it quarantines “generate no revenue, do not appear in non-subscription-based feeds (eg Popular), and are not included in search or recommendations.”
The implication of a subreddit quarantine is that new, potential subscribers have a difficult time finding it.
Yet, a user, whose post is currently on the subreddit’s front page, claims they subscribed to The_Donald specifically because it was quarantined.
“I just wanted to say that I joined The_Donald because the powers that be have tried to block it. They don’t seem to realize that the more they try to stop us the stronger they are making us,” the redditor wrote.
One of the subreddit’s moderators posted a statement in response to the quarantine. The moderator urged users to report violent material, as there is too much content for the moderators to fully review.
“We need you to come in and help. If you see something that breaks the rules, report it and hit that (report) button” the moderator wrote. “As a visitor or member (of the subreddit), you can help moderators maintain the community by reporting and downvoting rule-breaking content.”
Akin to the band continuing to play while the Titanic sank, many of the current top posts on the subreddit urge the over 750,000 subscribers to remain active and upvote as many posts as possible–regardless of the content.
As The_Donald’s users tread the new ground of their implied restrictions, an entirely different result has emerged.
“The Great Reddit Exodus Begins,” reads the title of one 4chan thread. Since the quarantine, several threads of this variety have been popping up in 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board, /pol/. “Expect Reddit refugees,” writes several 4chan users in another.
In terms of decreasing moderation and increasing anarchy on internet forums, the order goes Reddit, 4chan, and then 8chan and beyond.
A subscriber of The_Donald, who comes to these more radical alternatives may suddenly find themselves agreeing with these more heinous views after their initial discussion space has been censored and they have picked up a victim mentality.
8chan has become to go-to space for the manifestos of radical-right terrorists willing to take action on their bigoted views. Both the Poway synagogue and the Christchurch mosque shooters posted onto 8chan shortly before their attacks. The possibility of The_Donald subscribers eventually making their way to 8chan and being exposed to and influenced by what they see is terrifying.
With The_Donald being quarantined and 8chan facing legal consequences, it’s clear that forums of bigoted discussion are collapsing into themselves. However, it seems like even more action may be required to keep the cockroach mentality from thriving.
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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.