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Reddit users post pornography and switch forums to ‘NSFW’ in latest protest against site’s management

Other forums opt for their own kind of chaos as they react against controversial changes

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 21 June 2023 20:27 BST
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(AFP via Getty Images)

Numerous Reddit forums have filled up with pornography and other adult images in the latest protest against the companies management.

The site has been swept by a variety of bizarre protests in recent days, amid a fallout between Reddit’s leadership and those who use the site. The disagreement began when Reddit announced that it would start charging fees for access to its data.

That change meant that many third-party apps said they would become unsustainable owing to the high prices, and would opt to shut down. That in turn led to outrage from moderators of the site, who felt that their unpaid work would become more difficult and that the changes reflected a lack of respect from Reddit’s leadership.

In protest against those changes, most Reddit moderators took their forums “dark”, meaning that they were inaccessible to the outside world. In the time since, many have since come back online – but with even more bizarre new restrictions, such as only allowing posts that are pictures of comedian John Oliver.

Now some of the site’s biggest forums, or subreddits, have labelled themselves not safe for work, or NSFW. That is a setting intended for “mature content”, which not only includes pornography but other kinds of images or posts that might not be suitable in public settings.

The tool is intended to protect people from sensitive content. But it also puts a host of restrictions on those forums, such as requiring users to be logged in, and confirm that they are over 18.

It also means that Reddit does not receive money from showing those pages, since it does not place advertising on those forums.

In line with the switch to being NSFW, many of the world’s biggest subreddits have begun to be filled up with pornographic images. That included previously relatively traditional subreddits, including those devoted to Formula One and Apple’s smart home devices.

Some of those posts are particularly extreme and obscene, with users seemingly competing to post the most offensive NSFW content they are able to find.

Others have simply switched to being labelled as NSFW but not posting content that fits in line with that restriction. The “videos” subreddit has a rule that everything must include John Oliver, for instance – but during its time as a NSFW forum it continued posting normal videos of the comedian.

Many of the posts that claim to be NSFW are actually jokes about the switch to pornography. On the Garmin forum, for instance, users posted “nudes” that actually showed the company’s smartwatches without their usual case on.

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