-Roland Barthes, “Lecture in Inauguration of the Chair of Literary Semiology,” 1979
Reddit’s CEO Steve Hoffman explains the changes in reddit’s content policy in terms of effecting a better environment for the circulation of ideas; unfettered free speech is not always a good thing, he admits, but aside from a few exceptions (child pornography, spam, threats, harassment, illegal activity), it is still the goal. Some users, however, pointed out the arbitrary nature of this new policy and its fascist undertones: reddit admins can ban whatever and whoever they want. Such criticisms, however, seem to miss the point that reddit was never supposed to be a ‘bastion of free speech’; it’s a company and its purpose is to accrue capital. The unofficial policy of banning anything the admins didn’t like was rarely criticized (if only because such moderation was not transparent) but now that reddit has enacted official content policies, which are effectively the same as the old unofficial policies, users lamenting the loss of freedom of speech on reddit abound.