More than a week after a school shooting in Florida left 17 people dead, the assault on the victims continues on Reddit’s The_Donald.
The subreddit, described as the internet’s largest forum in support of Donald Trump, has been filled with posts questioning the motives of the student survivors of the massacre who have now become vocal gun control advocates. While some of the criticisms have remained on topic, the bulk have attacked the victims directly — for their political stances, for their looks, and for the conspiracy theory that they are crisis actors inserted into the situation to push for gun control.
As the attacks continue, the anger toward site administrators for failing to step in and stop the attacks has grown. There have been pleas to the site’s administrators that reached the front page of Reddit, but not yet any response, and the attacks continue.
But while Reddit has failed to step in and stop the attacks on the Florida school shooting survivors, some angry users are taking their pleas directly to the site’s advertisers, and it appears to be working.
Earlier this week, several users reached out to tax preparation company TurboTax after an advertisement for the company appeared on the sidebar next to a post attacking the survivors for smiling in a photo before a television interview. Within the post were some particularly harsh attacks toward the students.
“Ive seen this little chicken neck kid and the rest of the sjw gang on every news channel for the last 48 hours,” one commenter wrote. “Exploiting a good tragedy is the m.o. for SJW scum and that will never change.”
Many took their pleas directly to TurboTax, and the company took swift action, removing its advertisements from The_Donald.
The tactic to take the concerns directly to advertisers mirrored the campaign launched this week by school shooting victims to take on the NRA. A number of the students have called for boycotts of the companies doing business with the NRA, leading a series of major companies to sever ties with the gun lobby group.
There does appear to be some individual actions within Reddit being taken to curb the character attacks on the victims of the Florida school shooting. A post on The_Donald linking to a particularly misleading story from Infowars claiming that David Hogg gave an anti-gun interview before the school shooting (which was just a doctored video using an interview from after the shooting) was taken down this week.
But there remains a high volume of posts launching personal attacks against the victims (which is also taking place on the Conspiracy subreddit and to an even larger extent on a Trump-centered conspiracy board CBTS_Stream, which stands for “Calm before the storm”). And while the smears against the school shooting victims also originate in other far-right reaches of the internet, NBC News noted that Reddit’s The_Donald plays a key role in perpetuating it and spreading it even further.
To date, Reddit’s administrators have not directly addressed The_Donald or the campaign to smear victims of the Florida school shooting. Reddit did not respond to a request to comment for this story.