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News & Investigation Reddit

Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Jason Louv

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When Reddit Shills Tried to Hide the Truth

Reddit goes hog-wild trying to censor Glenn Greenwald’s revelations that intelligence agencies are crafting and disrupting online discourse

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald released what may be the most explosive document in the Snowden files—a GCHQ slideshow depicting tactics for destabilizing and destroying online discourse using trolling and related strategies, including bizarre slides urging GCHQ employees to become “Cyber Magicians” and employ psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to break up online dissent.

Not surprisingly, the story was immediately killed at Reddit—and killed over and over again by the mods, until it finally slipped through the, ahem, “shill-net” to finally see the light of day. Reddit, which purports to follow a democratic model of information-sharing, where individual users can up-vote or down-vote specific stories, with the ones that are most up-voted receiving the most attention, has been known to be non-neutral ground since, I dunno… oh, right. Since the government came down hard on the guy who created it and he hung himself for raiding files from JSTOR, rather than face 35 years in prison. Major tell right there. Nudge nudge wink wink.

ZeroHedge covers the regular killing of the Greenwald GCHQ story at /r/news and /r/worldnews, with screenshots:

The moderators at the giant r/news reddit (with over 2 million readers) repeatedly killed the Greenwald/Snowden story on government manipulation and disruption of the Internet … widely acknowledged to be one of the most important stories ever leaked by Snowden.

Similarly, the moderators at the even bigger r/worldnews reddit (over 5 million readers) repeatedly deleted the story, so that each new post had to start over at zero. 

The story did, however, finally make it into the /r/worldnews and /r/news ecosystem, and finally shot to the very top of the /r/worldnews subreddit (my own article on the NSA’s Mexico installation, from VICE News, was hanging out in the #5 position). Once it made it to the front page, however, the “downvote brigade,” as Redditors (possibly shills or bots) who show up in droves to push controversial stories out of the limelight are sometimes called, quickly pushed it down.

Once Greenwald’s story made it to the top of /r/worldnews, however, commentors immediately started asking questions about why it had been suppressed.

Via a Redditor whose account has apparently been deleted, who also outs some of the shady tactics that have long been used to discredit the /r/conspiracy board:

Why is this story being removed from all the popular subs over and over by mods?

Message the admins[1] about the censorship of this article by /r/news[2] and /r/worldnews[3] mods. They have never seemed to care about this in the past but if enough users message them it will hopefully at least provoke a response of some kind. Something needs to be done about this or this site needs to be abandoned as a platform for legitimate political discourse.

Important Update: So, it turns out that the /r/news[4] mod /u/BipolarBear0[5]  who has been deleting all the instances of this story has previously been caught running a voting brigade to get anti-Semitic content upvoted on /r/conspiracy to discredit the sub[6] . A fact which he admitted to me in another thread[7] just a few minutes ago (he claims he was doing an “experiment”…) . This guy needs to be banned from the site.

Over at /r/psychonaut, which is one of the few places on Reddit to get good information—outside of, ironically, the /r/conspiracy board, another Redditor breaks down a full list of the times the Greenwald article was pulled:

Via Redditor Alethios:

Compilation of all the times this story has been removed from Reddit:

https://pay.reddit.com/r/longtail/comments/1yw2nf/17977348_snowden_files_how_covert_agents/[1]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/longtail/comments/1ywl9l/60710537_leaked_gchq_document_admits_spy_agency/[2]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/longtail/comments/1ywkxv/3481820605_greenwald_how_covert_agents_infiltrate/[3]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/undelete/comments/1yw27h/9952966_the_conspiracy_theory_is_true_agents/[4]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/1yue1i/greenwald_how_covert_agents_infiltrate_the/[5]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/longtail/comments/1yvd0k/94717963_greenwald_article_how_covert_agents/[6]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yux9i/greenwald_how_covert_agents_infiltrate_the/[7]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yuut8/how_covert_agents_infiltrate_the_internet_to/[8]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yxb1r/snowden_training_guide_for_gchq_nsa_agents/[9]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yxkbv/new_nsa_leak_gchqs_dirtytricking_psyops_groups/[10]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yxkw0/western_spy_agencies_build_cyber_magicians_to/[11]

https://pay.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1yx8zk/how_covert_agents_infiltrate_the_internet_to/[12]

Downvote brigade gearing up as the story rapidly slips down the rankings on the front page.

Confirms for me the causes behind the apparent slow decline of any genuine news on the front page (Celebrity Deaths, Olympic News and Natural Events aside). When was the last time we heard anything about Monsanto continuing to shit on people from a great height? When did we last hear about anything real really?

I suppose it’s pretty common knowledge by now that the mass media are little better than mouthpieces for the establishment. Now, we’re forced to conclude that the conversation online (particularly in the larger subreddits and websites) is just as badly manipulated.

Same tactics as those used against the counter-culture in the 60s, just on a wider scale.

If there was any remaining shred of naïveté left that intelligence and corporate authorities aren’t crafting and molding online discourse, I would hope you have now been disabused of it. I will note that the collective power of online interest in non-bullshit, however, tends to overwhelm shill and bot attacks, and this stuff always does make it into the public awareness despite all best efforts to the contrary. But how much of a toll does the great Distraction Machine—whether directly imposed by authorities, or by our own noisy online chatter and vapid sharing—take on the public mind? Quite a bit, I’d say, gauging by the number of freedoms we’ve lost in the last decade.

Keep sharing and upvoting the things that matter.

(Image via.)


About the Author

is the author of Queen Valentine and editor of Thee Psychick Bible, Ultraculture Journal and Generation Hex. He currently lives in Los Angeles.




  • Vance Decker

    Reddit is the Grand Central Station of Internet SOCK Puppetry. It’s not really a revelation, as much as a study in human psychology. Despite knowing that most of the site is a complete scam, people are still drawn to it because “so many people” are there posting, including myself…

  • Lucy Hill

    The shills on Reddit are like actors and actresses, they post from US military bases and use software to manipulate voting (for censorship). They start propaganda threads about e.g. Vaccines, then keep on repeating a propaganda point like “Can’t believe there are people who think vaccines can cause Autism”…etc in an attempt to make it appear that the majority of people take a particular view. If you post studies which debunk them they downvote you into oblivion, they damage your account so badly that Reddit won’t let you post very often or will even shadow-ban you.

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