As an act of protest against moderator censorship, Redditors have flooded the /r/videos subreddit with posts purporting to show United Airlines malfeasance through the years.
Monday, the moderators of /r/videos deleted a viral video that showed doctor David Dao violently dragged off an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville. The video was quickly upvoted on the /r/videos subreddit, which has more than 15 million subscribers and often shows up on Reddit's front page. But moderators of the subreddit determined that the video violated a rule banning videos that show "police brutality or harassment" and "videos of assault/battery."
The removal of one of the most-discussed videos in recent memory didn't sit well with Redditors, who began flooding the subreddit with videos of the aftermath of Dao's assault that didn't violate those two rules.
Redditors have also started posting other United Airlines-related videos, including a 2012 video showing a United Airlines employee calling a military veteran a "retard," a new story about United Airlines kicking an autistic girl off a flight, and a video in which a woman blames United Airlines for killing her dog. Videos about United Airlines now make up nearly the entire front page of the subreddit.
Because this is Reddit, there are also a handful of joke videos, such as a "German doctor being violently thrown off building because the hotel was overbooked," which is a clip of Hans Gruber being thrown off a building in Die Hard.
The moderators of the subreddit seem to have caved to their users' revolt—a moderator named confirmedzach has attempted to find a middle ground, allowing users to post the original video in the comments of other videos. They announced that a video showing the aftermath of the incident would not be removed: "It features only a man walking down an airplane aisle," they wrote, noting that the first viral video showed "hired officers abusing another person … being forcibly ripped out of your seat and dragged across the floor against your will is battery."
The incident once again raises tough questions about how Reddit, which has more than 250 million registered users and reaches tens of millions of people daily, should be moderated. On one hand, moderating the site is a thankless volunteer job. On the other, moderators are given a huge amount of control over what people see; rules that ban police brutality videos or assault videos may make the subreddit more pleasant to visit, but banning such videos means that the site cannot be looked at as an accurate reflection of what's happening in the world.