Incoherent Conspiracy Suggests Ghislaine Maxwell Is a Powerful Redditor

The baseless "MaxwellHill" conspiracy shows how companies have failed to protect random users who have somehow become the subject of social media frenzies.
July 9, 2020, 4:15pm
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IMAGE: PATRICK MCMULLAN / CONTRIBUTOR

An incoherent and evidence-free conspiracy theory that Ghislaine Maxwell controlled one of the most powerful Reddit accounts of all time has quickly gone from 4chan and Twitter to spreading like wildfire on Reddit, leading to the harassment of the user who controls the account.

The conspiracy theory suggests that Maxwell, who was arrested last week by the FBI on counts of sex trafficking and enticement of minors related to her relationship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has spent the last 14 years amassing a large amount of fake internet points by posting thousands upon thousands of links on Reddit.

The “evidence” shared by conspiracy theorists is that the user in question, u/MaxwellHill, has the word “Maxwell” in their name. The conspiracy theory's architects claim that gaps in the user’s posting history are tied to what they believe to be significant events in Ghislaine Maxwell’s life that apparently would have precluded her from posting links to articles about climate change, insects, Bitcoin, and a host of other various general news, as the account has dutifully done since 2006. They also have glommed onto a 2011 Gizmodo article in which MaxwellHill mentioned they were "busy with a potential business venture."

The spread of the MaxwellHill conspiracy shows yet again how quickly anyone's farfetched and evidenceless theories can whip thousands of people into a frenzy, and how random users of social media can be caught in the jumble. Redditors are now endlessly scrolling thousands of this user's posts trying to find hidden clues and evidence of wrongdoing, trying to determine who this person really is, and studying the minute details of the lives of everyone named "Maxwell Hill" on Facebook and their supposed whereabouts during apparently notable dates in Ghislaine Maxwell's life.

u/MaxwellHill is one of the most well-known Redditors of all time—they were the first account to surpass one million karma on the website, and to this day are in the top 10 karma earners ever, with nearly 15 million karma points to datet. They also help moderate a host of influential communities, including r/worldnews, r/travel, r/health, r/environment, and r/bad_cop_no_donut, which is about police abuse of power. The conspiracy theory, then, is that u/MaxwellHill—who is actually, in the eyes of these conspiracy theorists, Ghislaine Maxwell—has used their power on the platform to influence the masses, normalize pedophilia, and cover up crimes.

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any of this is actually the case.

Posts about this conspiracy theory have gotten tens of thousands of upvotes on Reddit on a number of different subreddits, most notably r/conspiracy and r/epstein. Post titles include:

  • Reddit banning all users commenting on Maxwellhill threads. Closing threads of this theory that is now blowing up. This should let you know that there is basis behind this theory. Reddit has been shaped as a pedo-apologist website for a decade. Mossad/CIA infiltration. It all makes sense now.
  • /u/maxwellhill the Reddit account with the 8th most link karma of all time, powermod of frontpage subs, first account to reach a million Karma, is/was operated by Ghislaine Maxwell.
  • Almost 12k users here right now. Well done people, I think you managed to get onto something with the 'm-a-x-w-e-l-l-h-i-l-l' situation. I fear for the future of this subreddit though. We might finally be included in the next purge after this revelation.

This has led to an extreme amount of attention and harassment against the actual u/MaxwellHill who has been linked, without evidence, to a known associate of a convicted pedophile who was just arrested by the FBI. Another well-known Redditor described the user to Motherboard as "just some guy." u/MaxwellHill’s fellow moderators on the r/WorldNews subreddit have reported the conspiracy theories to Reddit’s corporate admins; Reddit has seemingly not taken any specific action to stem the conspiracy theories at this point.

“The u/maxwellhill conspiracy theory is another one of Reddit's unfortunate misinformation brigades,” Brian Burlage, who controls the Reddit username u/DickFromAccounting, which has the 21st most karma of all time.

“The user is actually just some guy who's been on the site forever and is one of the leading moderators of r/worldnews," he explained. "In fact, the other worldnews moderators have filed complaints with the site's admins because u/maxwellhill has been harassed so much and received so many threats in the last few days. It's just one example of how Redditors focus their trumped up outrage on a given theory/idea without any factual evidence, and then the site (and the internet) run away with the speculation.”

u/MaxwellHill did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through Reddit. A screenshot of a conversation between u/MaxwellHill and u/Hasharin, a fellow r/WorldNews moderator was posted Wednesday.

“Yeah I logged on a couple of hrs and saw all this shit in my PM,” u/MaxwellHill said in the conversation. “Quite fun actually but conspiracy theories are by nature toxic otherwise they wouldn’t attract readers.”

A Reddit spokesperson did not have specific comment about the account, but said "At Reddit, our site-wide policies explicitly prohibit any content or behavior that threatens, harasses, or bullies groups of people or individuals. Communities and users who post or encourage such content will be actioned."

Christian Everdell, Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.