Reddit has very few hard and fast rules, and counts freedom of speech among its core values. If you go to reddit.com/rules, you'll see a five point list that all seems pretty reasonable:
- Don't spam.
- Don't ask for votes or engage in vote manipulation.
- Don't post personal information.
- No child pornography or sexually suggestive content featuring minors.
- Don't break the site or do anything that interferes with normal use of the site.
It's that third rule I'm curious about - don't post personal information. While several subreddits have been deleting threads devoted to disseminating the photos from this week's massive leak of nude celeb photos, reddit actually has an entire subreddit devoted to poring over, scrutinizing, and sharing these images. This has me wondering what constitutes "personal information" on reddit.
This subreddit (not linked for obvious reasons) isn't just reposts of these images, it's people "cleaning them up in photoshop," trying to match images that don't feature the subject's faces to other images of celebrities, and just general backpatting and goofing around. Remember, this is the same site that was so incensed by a Gawker article describing the creepy behavior of a reddit user that it temporarily banned all links to Gawker sites, a ban which dozens of subreddits still have in place.
I had always heard that the shorthand of reddit was simply "no doxing." Now, in modern parlance, doxing is essentially the posting of real names, addresses, phone numbers, etc, of people operating pseudonymously on the internet. But the root is "releasing the docs" or sensitive documents. I would imagine there are few documents more sensitive to the people who have been victimized than these photos.
I have always thought of reddit as being sort of like 4Chan with a hall monitor. Yeah, the kids are crazy, but there is generally someone who can put the worst folks on time out. Which is why it's surprising to me that it has been so cavalier about these photos. Hell, even 4Chan is blocking some of the images (though it's due to a copyright claim by Jennifer Lawrence rather than actual human decency). I sent an email to reddit's press folks asking where the site draws the line on what constitutes "personal info," but I haven't heard back. I'll update this article if I do.