Posted on August 3, 2020

The Great Deletion

Wilfred Reilly, Spiked, July 30, 2020


On 29 July, Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, deleted a popular ‘subreddit’ (a type of forum specific to the platform) dealing with hate-crime hoaxes. {snip} That same day, Reddit also deleted a number of other popular subreddits, including the r/GenderCritical and r/TrueLesbians/ – forums known for hosting debates by female feminists about the role of trans women in the feminist movement – and a subreddit devoted to female reproductive-health issues. It also deleted r/HBD – short for human biodiversity – a page which focuses on questions of race and human genetic variation. For good measure, the site also kicked off what may have been its most popular right- and left-wing political forums respectively: r/TheDonald/ and r/ChapoTrapHouse.

The explanation Reddit gave for banning all of these communities was that they ‘promoted hate’. Having been on Reddit, this is probably not a wholly baseless claim. It is hard not to notice a small but noisy contingent of alt-righters on the HBD forum, alongside biology grad students and Charles Murray fan-boys, who seek an (elusive) wholly genetic explanation for small differences in traits like tested IQ and running speed. r/GenderCritical was attacked fairly often for criticising both straight males and trans women – often for the same reasons. And, certainly, both r/TheDonald and r/ChapoTrapHouse/ were known for crude, if often funny, memes mocking everything under the sun.

However, the deletion decision becomes a bit more surprising given what Reddit left up. While deleting r/GenderCritical/ as potentially offensive to women (of both the trans and ‘traditional’ variety), the site specifically decided not to take down the r/RapeKink subreddit, which is dedicated almost entirely to rape pornography and fetish stories (though this page was at least temporarily quarantined). r/RapeFantasy made the cut too, although a sub called r/StruggleFucking/ was eventually taken down.

{snip} As a free-speech absolutist, I take no real position on the existence of these forums. But it’s an odd world indeed where ‘RapeKink’ is considered less potentially harmful to women than a feminist forum. To some extent, we see here the logical application of modern ‘social justice’ morality, within which the worst sin is intolerance: TERF-y feminism is intolerant and thus bad, while rape porn is okay.


This sort of thing is becoming more common. On Twitter, a popular account called ‘Anti-Racist Science’ – which gained more than 1,000 followers during its first day active – has called for a total ban on ‘further use’ of the most common data-set of national IQ scores, put together early in the 21st century by the quantitative psychologist Richard Lynn. Lynn’s data includes the IQ test scores of more than 80 nations. But according to this Twitter account, it is ‘fraudulent’ and has been used to support ‘scientific racism’ concerning ‘the inferiority of people with African ancestry’. For good measure, the Anti-Racist Science account includes an official form that any interested follower can use to report the use of Lynn’s data or other ‘racist / race-science misinformation’ in a peer-reviewed academic paper.


While they build their digital presence, major outlets and publications almost invariably give positive coverage to actions like the deletion of the subreddits – which Buzzfeed, Vice, MarketWatch and People magazine all reported. Buzzfeed faithfully parroted Reddit’s line that this was ‘a crackdown on communities that promote hate’. Other alternative voices – from PragerU to Cop Block (and even myself) – are not banned outright but find their content is demonetised across various platforms. Mass media outlets are now in the enviable position of being able to run stories that advocate for the removal of their competitors, while simultaneously drawing clicks to their own online content.

How should ordinary netizens respond? A first, very simple approach is simply to remember that almost anyone famously removed from social media also has a professional website. If dark political humour is your thing, you can now find The Donald here and Chapo Trap House here. Alternative media platforms like Parler are increasing in popularity, although at times it can feel like a more professionally designed 4chan. {snip}

And there is one more option – keep it old school. If you are genuinely interested in controversial topics like race relations, gender or human genetics, go down to the local library and check out a book. I myself wrote a fairly solid one on hate-crime hoaxes. {snip}