A recent post on the Bitcoin subreddit has caused speculation that Reddit has banned links to LocalBitcoins.com, one of the safer and primary ways that people trade Bitcoin on a peer-to-peer basis.
According to user BashCo, the problem has been ongoing:
“Refuse” may be a bit too strong of a word here. I first messaged them about it five days ago on April 4th, plus one reminder on the weekend. Still no reply, but they are often very slow in responding. I’ll give them another couple days.
Throughout the post, it is made evident that links to LocalBitcoins are not being posted. An r/Bitcoin moderator even attempts to whitelist posts with said links, but they still do not appear. The most are made by user Frankenmint, who is a moderator on r/Bitcoin. That s/he is the one making the complaint makes it evident that this was not a local decision.
Ironically, r/LocalBitcoins appears to be just fine. That subreddit has less than 1,000 users compared to r/Bitcoin’s more than 100,000. Notably, in the description of the subreddit, “LocalBitcoins.com” is not a link, but a word.
Reddit has yet to respond to CCN’s request for comment.
Reddit is not above a paternalist approach to its content moderation. When the “Pizzagate” conspiracy reached its fever-pitch last year, a ban of the subreddit and discussion of the topic was implemented sitewide. During the same period, CEO Steve Huffman publicly acknowledged having edited vitriolic posts directed at himself. The affair raised the age-old “censorship on private property” discussion.
Companies like Reddit have to make careful judgement recalls when dealing with freedom of speech issues. After a certain point, too little moderation can lower the perceived value of a community. Likewise, too much moderation can stifle adoption of a given platform. Subreddit’s themselves also struggle with this occasionally. The very reason that r/btc and r/Bitcoin exist simultaneously is that some users of r/Bitcoin felt their ideas were being unfairly overmoderated.
All of this is to say that if Reddit had received multiple complaints from users, valid or otherwise, about being scammed on LocalBitcoins, or something of that nature, then it wouldn’t be surprising if this were the catalyst for Reddit placing a ban on links to LocalBitcoins, and we can hope the issue will be resolved. It could also be a co-ordinated effort by competitors like Paxful, but this seems unlikely because the Bitcoin world is one where such moves are frequently exposed and their actors are vilified in the extreme.
CCN will keep you posted as this story develops.
A Reddit PR representative responded to CCN with the following message:
“The ban on the domain in question has been lifted, and we have responded via comment on the thread here.”
The response on the thread explains the reason behind the URL ban:
This domain was banned by our spam filter because it was being spammed excessively via PM. We have since removed the ban since we’re no longer seeing the spam attack continue, and we’re continuously working to improve our spam controls to reduce any further false positive.
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