Last week, Reddit announced a new policy: If someone informs the site that their naked pictures have been published without their permission, the pics will be taken down. This radically reasonable policy has left Reddit's entitled masturbators furious and fed up.
The takedown rule, described in a post by Reddit's management, exposed what is perhaps the site's greatest, stupidest contradiction: The community values nothing more than personal privacy and the inviability of personal rights—unless it's time to jerk off. Like songbirds all trapped in one big technolibertarian, hypocritical cage, a male-dominated meltdown has screeched its way all across Reddit.
Many reacted to the policy update as if it'd come from Congress, instead of Reddit:
What would the philosophical symposiums of the ancient world look like today, if conducted by men in fedoras? Something like this:
"Who are you going to appoint to decide what is 'too sexy' to be posted?"
Some see this as the "beginning of the end" for Reddit:
While others saw it as part of a conspiracy set in motion by Jennifer Lawrence:
Naturally, a bitcoin zealot began dreaming of using that technology to create the ultimate unauthorized nude-hosting solution:
Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, currently in an entirely unrelated sexual harassment suit, was immediately implicated:
And, of course, there was this guy:
To reiterate: Reddit isn't banning porn. Reddit isn't even banning revenge porn, or the sharing of images of women who have no idea they've been published on Reddit. This new rule is only saying that if a woman says "take down this picture that is of me, naked, you fucking weirdos," Reddit will comply. That is it. That is the controversy.
Years ago, when interviewing the team that'd just rebooted Digg, I asked what they thought caused the Reddit precursor's implosion. An engineer told me that when a community site becomes as large as Digg grew in its heyday, it's essentially ungovernable—people just can't coexist online in enormous numbers. Reddit is far, far larger than Digg ever was, and infected with the kind of infuriating political contrarianism that makes Who's to say who really owns this woman's nudes? a popular notion. So long as slippery slope arguments are considered our best line of defense against an encroaching NSA, Reddit will continue to be a cesspool, and women will keep finding their photos there.