Three moderators of the Reddit community known as “The_Donald” were unceremoniously removed from their roles, according to a community moderator’s since-deleted post from yesterday. The sudden ejection is the latest crack along the fault lines that are tearing at the foundation of the community.
The prolific pro-Trump community has been a longtime online organizing hub for Trump supporters and has hosted many members of Trump’s campaign, and even Trump himself, for “Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer sessions with users. Pro-Trump media have often drawn source material from content generated in the community, despite the fact that “The_Donald” harbors far-right subcultures, including white nationalists.
A moderator for The_Donald who goes by “shadowman3001” posted yesterday that a group of moderators had been “working on an alternative site to use as a backup” in the event that their community, also known as a subreddit, is suspended from Reddit entirely. In June, Reddit moderators placed the community into “quarantine” on its platform after moderators of The_Donald failed to remove posts that contained violent threats “against police and public officials.” When a community is placed under Reddit quarantine, users of the site must opt into viewing content from the community, and the content on that community’s board does not appear in search or recommendations, according to a post by a Reddit administrator on the site’s announcements board.
Community members panicked after The_Donald was quarantined, fearing that the action taken against the board was a step towards an inevitable ban of the community message board. According to the post by shadowman3001, moderators of The_Donald had been working on creating an alternative website where the community could move should it be banished from its home on Reddit.
In the now-deleted post, shadowman3001 announced that three moderators operating behind the monikers “Sublime,” “US2a,” and “Dan” were removed because they “were adamantly against having an alternative site.” The moderator claimed that the threesome was conspiring to “get rid” of him with the assistance of Reddit administrators.
“Well, it finally got to the point that those three had to be removed for the sake of the subreddit as well as the mod team,” the moderator wrote. In the comment section of what’s left of the post written by shadowman3001, users disputed whether the action was warranted.
The Twitter account associated with The_Donald posted yesterday that there were plans to “get rid of a lot of the oppressive censorship” within its Reddit community, but that “those plans involved removing some of those intent on censoring it.” In another Twitter post, the Twitter account claimed to be operated by moderator shadowman3001.
Plans are finally under way to get rid of a lot of the oppressive censorship on The_Donald.
Unfortunately those plans involved removing some of those intent on censoring it.
— /r/The_Donald (@thedonaldreddit) September 17, 2019
One moderator removed from the subreddit yesterday who goes by the nickname, “Sublime,” accused current moderators of the community of planning to create and start “shilling” an alternative—and potentially monetized—website to host The_Donald, instead of making a sincere attempt to appeal against Reddit’s quarantine, according to what appear to be leaks from The_Donald’s chat room on Discord.
A prolific pro-Trump meme-maker and The_Donald user best known as “Carpe Donktum” expressed his disappointment with The_Donald moderator who suspended the trio of other moderators. Logan Cook, the man behind the Carpe Donktum moniker, was invited to the White House in July and met face-to-face with the president in the Oval Office.
Show me the screen shot of the conversation where you discussed with the other top MODs(the ones you kicked out) about your new website that would split and compete with T_D. https://t.co/qbpwTxOCWS
— Carpe Donktum? (@CarpeDonktum) September 17, 2019
As Mother Jones’ Ali Breland reported last month, members of The_Donald have been debating where to move their community if their home on Reddit is given the boot; there has been little consensus. Breland reported:
Public agreement has been hard to come by. In Reddit threads and in their group on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, The_Donald members have weighed potential new homes on obscure “free speech platforms” and found the options lacking.
Finding a new home for The_Donald is difficult because no other platform has everything its Reddit users have come to expect, and think the community needs to thrive.