Voat has been down for much of Wednesday, crushed under the weight of a massive exodus from Reddit after the popular link-sharing site dropped a ban on some of the most notorious sites.
Reddit announced early in the day that it would be banning a handful of boards (known as subreddits) that administrators said had become “a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action.”We’re banning behavior, not ideas,” the message said.
The ban included four small subreddits and one giant on FatPeopleHate, a board dedicated to posting pictures of overweight people and ridiculing them. In the ensuing mayhem, Reddit was flooded with angry posts and dozens of copycat subreddits like fatpeoplehate2, which were systematically banned as well.
The result has also been a boon to Voat, which is essentially a Reddit knock-off right down to the voting format and site style. The Swiss-based voat has fewer rules on moderation, however, and takes a lax approach toward content.
Reddit has long struggled to contain some of its more offensive or questionably illegal content. Back in 2012, a firestorm erupted when media outlets — chiefly CNN — cast a light on subreddits dedicated to posting “creepshots” of strangers. One of those sites was Jailbait, which allowed users to post highly suggestive pictures of underage girls.
The ban led to nationwide attention and eventually an expose on Michael Brutsch, the man who created and moderated many of the most questionable boards under the name violentacrez.
The story on Brutsch led many of the site’s boards to ban Gawker and its affiliates in retaliation, but it was short-lived.
But in the years since then, a small but increasingly vocal number of Reddit’s user base has complained about corporate policies swinging the other way. In February, a user by the name redditiscorrupt0 wrote a long post claiming that moderators were conspiring to censor speech along “radical feminist and social justice” lines.
That day, a group of Redditors formed a new subreddit to document what they believed was censorship, and just hours later, Voat saw one of its largest influxes of new members.
As the Washington Post noted, Voat has tried to take the opposite stance.
“We are not SJW and don’t plan on becoming it,” Voat’s founders wrote in the most popular question of their Q&A. “Also (luckily for us), no SJW girlfriends.” Winky-face.
The bottom line: On Voat, sticky issues like “social justice” won’t interfere with the inalienable right to be, as one user puts it, “serious, serious d***s.”
But those who have left Reddit in the wake of the FatPeopleHate ban will have to wait at least a bit longer until they can congregate at a new site. Voat remained down for much of Wednesday evening and into the early morning hours on Thursday.
[Image via Voat.co]