A group of Reddit community moderators released an open letter Wednesday calling on the platform to tackle misinformation about COVID-19 more aggressively.
“There needs to be a more active involvement in preventing the spread of the disinformation that is keeping us within a pandemic that at this point is entirely manageable,” the moderators wrote.
“Reddit as a global platform needs to take responsibility here,” the letter continues. “We are calling on the admins to take ownership of their website, and remove dangerous medical disinformation that is endangering lives and contributing to the existence of this ongoing pandemic.”
Coronavirus cases have been surging worldwide over the last few weeks on the back of the highly contagious delta variant despite a steady uptick in vaccination rates.
There are myriad reasons why vaccination rates are not higher, including faulty information that has spread online.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman defended his platform’s approach to misinformation Wednesday, noting in a post that the company has elevated experts and directed users to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the site’s homepage.
Huffman pushed back on the call for more communities to be banned by arguing that “dissent is a part of Reddit and the foundation of democracy.”
“Given the rapid state of change, we believe it is best to enable communities to engage in debate and dissent, and for us to link to the CDC wherever appropriate,” he wrote.
Users were locked from commenting on Huffman’s post, but in separate discussions users were critical of his stance.
“There is nothing authentic about the harmful discussion and debate coming from those subs,” one user wrote, referring to subreddits. “They move goalposts, repeat lie after lie after lie, and generally endanger all people. This reply is insane, and the chickenshit didn't even have the balls to allow comments.”