Gamergate and 'SJW' Bots Are Battling on Reddit

Users claim a Gamergate-friendly bot that identified “Social Justice Warriors” was banned from the site.

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May 25 2015, 6:45pm

Image: Michael Rosso/Flickr

Actually, it's about ethics in shadowbanning Reddit bots.

Two automated Reddit accounts have apparently been battling each other on the site recently. According to user SuperConductiveRabbi, a bot account called isreactionary_bot, run by what he called "SJWs" (a pejorative short for Social Justice Warrior), has been automatically identifying users who post to r/KotakuInAction, a subreddit perhaps best known for its misogyny and its role in Gamergate.

A competing bot, iscuck_bot, meanwhile, has been identifying "SJWs" by flagging those who post to a handful of activist-leaning subreddits, including /r/socialjustice101 and /r/TwoXChromosomes, a forum for feminist issues. Both accounts work by replying in threads to point out where specific users have posted in the past.

"[Guess] which one just got banned?" Rabbi wrote, implying that iscuck_bot had been kicked off Reddit. A separate post on Reddit alternative Voat also claimed the bot had been shadowbanned.

Shadowbanning occurs when Reddit bans an account without notifying the user, making it appear to the banned user that the account is still fully functional, while hiding all of its posts and upvotes from all other users on the site. Shadowbanning has become particularly contentious in recent weeks as the website works to rein in abuse on the platform.

User EugeneNix, who claimed to be behind iscuck_bot, said on Voat that he messaged the site admins about it but was "not expecting a reply."

"Most of the people who used it were SJWs so apparently they didn't have a problem. Probably just double standards as usual," he posted. "I have to admit I am not surprised but this experiment proved successful on how easy the SJWs get leniency."

As Reddit attempts to target hate speech and other online abuse, it's clear that many think it comes at a cost.

The idea that "SJWs," a term that has become internet-speak for anyone who condemns the rampant sexist, violent, and racist speech on Reddit, Twitter, or elsewhere, are being given preference on the site is apparently shared by many on the site, with multiple posts bemoaning how "royally fucked" the website has become.

Alexis Ohanian, the cofounder and executive chairman of Reddit, recently said misogynists on the site are "deplorable" and said he is working with other administrators to crack down on hateful speech, implementing a new policy to stop abusive speech and another ban on revenge porn. However, as Reddit attempts to target hate speech and other online abuse, it's clear that many think it comes at a cost.

"It's like they aren't even trying at this point, one user posted on Voat. "They know they've eliminated the trust the users had. I just remember the days when a top post on Reddit was 3000 karma, and the company used to post tech updates right on the blog."

"They immediately ban you for anything, no warning or anything," another user posted on Reddit. "It makes the site really tepid."

For what it's worth, according to a follow up comment on the original post, it appears that the bot account has since been reinstated, and may have been banned accidentally. But no matter the reasoning behind the alleged ban, this mini bot war has made it clear that 10 months after Gamergate, Reddit's culture war continues.

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