Haha. David Brock's Shareblue has been banned from Reddit's Politics sub

Politics sub has banned Shareblue website due to it using obvious spam accounts!

ShareBlue has been removed from the /r/politics whitelist effective immediately. This action applies to all domains or outlets operated directly by the entities TRUE BLUE MEDIA LLC. or SHAREBLUE MEDIA; no such outlets were found on our whitelist, other than ShareBlue. Accounts affiliated with ShareBlue, including its flaired account /u/sharebluemedia, have been banned from this subreddit.

In the spirit of transparency, we will share as much information as possible. We prohibit doxxing or witch hunting, thus we will not share any personally identifying details. Doxxing and witch hunting are against both our subreddit rules and Reddit's rules, and any attempt or incitement will be met with an immediate ban.


Background

In August 2017, we addressed an account associated with ShareBlue that had been submitting and commenting upon content from that organization without disclosing its affiliation. At that time, we did not have an explicit rule governing disclosure of affiliation with media outlets. We were troubled by the behavior, but after reviewing the available information, we believed that it was poor judgment motivated by enthusiasm, not malice. Therefore, we assumed good faith, and acted accordingly:

On August 28th, we added a rule requiring disclosure of employment:

r/politics expressly forbids users who are employed by a source to post link submissions to that source without broadcasting their affiliation with the source in question. Employees of any r/politics sources should only participate in our sub under their organization name, or via flair identifying them as such which can be provided on request. Users who are discovered to be employed by an organization with a conflict of interest without self identifying will be banned from r/politics. Systematic violations of this policy may result in a domain ban for those who do not broadcast their affiliation.

We also sent a message to the account associated with ShareBlue (identifying information has been removed):

Effective immediately we are updating our rules to clearly indicate that employees of sources must disclose their relationship with their employer, either by using an appropriate username or by requesting a flair indicating your professional affiliation. We request that you cease submissions of links to Shareblue, or accept a flair [removed identifying information]. Additionally, we request that any other employees or representatives of ShareBlue immediately cease submitting and voting on ShareBlue content, as this would be a violation of our updated rules on disclosure of employment. Identifying flair may be provided upon request. Note that we have in the past taken punitive measures against sources / domains that have attempted to skirt our rules, and that continued disregard for our policies may result in a ban of any associated domains.

When the disclosure rule came into effect, ShareBlue and all known associates appeared to comply. /u/sharebluemediawas registered as an official flaired account.

Recent Developments

Within the past week, we discovered an account that aroused some suspicion. This account posted regarding ShareBlue without disclosing any affiliation with the company; it appeared to be an ordinary user and spoke of the organization in the third person. Communications from this account were in part directed at the moderation team.

Our investigation became significant, relying on personal information and identifying details. We determined conclusively that this was a ShareBlue associated account under the same control as the account we'd messaged in August.

The behavior in question violated our disclosure rule, our prior warning to the account associated with ShareBlue, and Reddit's self-promotion guidelines, particularly:

You should not hide your affiliation to your project or site, or lie about who you are or why you like something... Don't use sockpuppets to promote your content on Reddit.

We have taken these rules seriously since the day they were implemented, and this was a clear violation. A moderator vote to remove ShareBlue from the whitelist passed quickly and unanimously.

Additional Information

Why is ShareBlue being removed, but not other sources (such as Breitbart or Think Progress)?

Our removal of ShareBlue from the whitelist is because of specific violations of our disclosure rule, and has nothing to do with suggestions in prior meta threads that it ought to be remove from the whitelist. We did not intend to remove ShareBlue from the whitelist until we discovered the offending account associated with it.

We are aware of no such rule-breaking behavior by other sources at this time. We will continue to investigate credible claims of rules violations by any media outlet, but we will not take action against a source (such as Breitbart or Think Progress) merely because it is unpopular among /r/politics subscribers.

Why wasn't ShareBlue banned back in August?

At that time, we did not have a firm rule requiring disclosure of employment by a media outlet. Our current rule was inspired in part by the behavior in August. We don't take any decision to remove media outlets from the whitelist lightly. In August, our consensus was that we should assume good faith on ShareBlue's part and treat the behavior as a mistake or misunderstanding.

Can ShareBlue be restored to the whitelist in the future?

We take violation of our rules and policies by media outlets very seriously. As with any outlet that has been removed from the whitelist, we could potentially consider reinstating it in the future. Reinstating these outlets has not traditionally been a high priority for us.

Are other outlets engaged in this sort of behavior?

We know of no such behavior, but we cannot definitively answer this question one way or the other. We will continue to investigate potential rule-breaking behavior by media outlets, and will take appropriate action if any is discovered. We don't take steps like this lightly - we require evidence of specific rule violations by the outlet itself to consider removing an outlet from the whitelist.

Did your investigation turn up anything else of interest?

Our investigation also examined whether ShareBlue had used other accounts to submit, comment on, or promote its content on /r/politics. We looked at a number of suspicious accounts, but found no evidence of additional accounts controlled by ShareBlue. We found some "karma farmer" accounts that submit content from a variety of outlets, including ShareBlue, but we believe they are affiliated with spam operations - accounts that are "seasoned" by submitting content likely to be upvoted, then sold or used for commercial spam not related to their submission history. We will continue to work with the Reddit admins to identify and remove spammers.

Can you assure us that this action was not subject to political bias?

Our team has a diverse set of political views. We strive to set them aside and moderate in a policy-driven, politically neutral way.

The nature of the evidence led to unanimous consent among the team to remove ShareBlue from the whitelist and ban its associated user accounts from /r/politics. Our internal conversation focused entirely on the rule-violating behavior and did not consider ShareBlue's content or political affiliation.


To media outlets that wish to participate in /r/politics: we take the requirement to disclose your participation seriously. We welcome you here with open arms and ample opportunities for outreach if you are transparent about your participation in the community. If you choose instead to misdirect our community or participate in an underhanded fashion, your organization will no longer be welcome.

Please feel free to discuss this action in this thread. We will try to answer as many questions as we can, but we will not reveal or discuss individually identifying information. The /r/politics moderation team historically has taken significant measures against witch hunting and doxxing, and we will neither participate in it nor permit it.

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