The Question of Monitoring on Private Forums – what can you say?

I came across this articling briefly explaining the situation as between WallStreetBets, Reddit, and the stock market. The situation transpiring within the last few days made me alert to the issue of free speech and the right to post and self-monitor on online discussion platforms. It seems that private communication sites (i.e Reddit, Facebook, Discord) have reserved the right to remove or mute select discussions. Yesterday, Discord (a similar platform to Reddit) had shut down the r/WallStreetBets server that many of the subreddit users had used to communicate. Discord claimed — somewhat unbelievably — that it had done so at this very moment because of a long term “hate speech” problem on that server.

But, then, a day later, Discord said it had re-enabled the server but that the company itself was helping to moderate the server. Discord staff are actively working with the server’s team to help with moderation. At least one Discord staffer, who is now in the new WallStreetBets server, is also helping with infrastructure problems related to the rapid growth the community is experiencing.

“WallStreetBets members have set up a new server and we are working with them,” says a Discord spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “We will welcome the group back so long as they improve their moderation practices and follow our Community Guidelines. We have reached out to the moderators to provide them with support and advice, like we do for many of our large communities.”

This type of behaviour from Discord is quite fascinating. Moderation setups at places like Reddit and Discord, because they show a different overall structure than the kind of content moderation questions at Facebook/Twitter/YouTube, provide insight into the increased level of monitoring that all forums will now be subject to. Unlike for Facebook and Twitter where the company itself dictates the terms (“rules”) of use, Reddit and Discord, while there are company-wide rules, offer individual communities the opportunity to effectively self-monitor within their sub-groups (the mods on Reddit or the server owner/admins on Discord). However, in a somewhat unprecedented move, Discord is stepping in to help moderate WallStreetBets.

Facebook also announced that it has shut down a popular stock trading group linked to WallStreetBets for a somewhat unexpected (and possibly unbelievable) reason: Facebook had disabled the 157,000-member group, stating without detail that the group violated policies on “adult sexual exploitation.”

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