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‘Deplatforming Hate Works’: Former Reddit CEO Celebrates Big Tech Censorship
Ellen Pao, partner at Kapor Capital and former venture capitalist at Keiner Perkins Caufield, speaks during a Bloomberg Technology interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Professor Anita Hill and Pao discussed harassment in the workplace, as well as diversity and gender equality.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tech activist and former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao last week celebrated the widespread censorship witnessed in recent months on Big Tech platforms, saying that “deplatforming hate works.”

“Deplatforming hate works. It worked on reddit in 2015, and now it’s working on YouTube,” Pao tweeted.

Pao was retweeting a thread by Adrian Rauchfleisch, an assistant professor of communication science and journalism at National Taiwan University, who shared elements of a pre-print study titled “Deplatforming the far-right: An analysis of YouTube and BitChute.”

The study, written by Rauchfleisch alongside Harvard University’s Jonas Kaiser, explained in its abstract that, “The content moderation practice of deplatforming, i.e. the removal of undesired actors, has become common on social media platforms such as YouTube.” 

“Little research has gone into understanding the scope and impact of deplatforming. In our study, we are particularly interested in the deplatforming of far-right channels to understand the impact deplatforming has on them. To do so, we analyze two datasets: We check whether 11,198 YouTube channels have been removed in 22 months between 2018 and 2019 and for what reason,” the abstract continued. “We then focus on the far-right and check whether the deplatformed far-right channels have found a new home on the alternative video platform BitChute. Our analysis shows that deplatforming is effective in minimizing the reach of disinformation and extreme speech, as alternative platforms that will allow this kind of content cannot mitigate the negative effect of being deplatformed on YouTube.”

In the Twitter thread Pao shared, Rauchfleisch argued that “deplatforming is effective in minimizing the reach of far-right channels like Alex Jones,” and “cannot be compensated on alternative platforms.”

He then continued to posit that an analysis of 11,000 YouTube channels indicated that removal of accounts is “common on YouTube,” and that “reasons are not arbitrary but follow an intuitive logic.”

“Deplatformed far-right channels often move to alternative platforms such as BitChute. Our analysis shows that they cannot keep their reach,” he added. 

“We also tested whether we could observe a so-called Martyr-effect for Alex Jones, James Allsup, and Red Ice TV,” Rauchfleisch said. “Our RDD shows that Youtube’s deplatforming lead to a short-term increase in views on BitChute — still, it’s far from the reach they had before on YouTube.”

As Newsbusters noted, Pao’s apparent praise of censorship is consistent with her behavior as CEO of Reddit.

The former Reddit CEO banned five communities on the platform while she was in power because of off-site behavior,” Newsbusters reported. “She also wanted the pro-Trump subreddit The_Donald banned, because groups like these are ‘just wrong,’ according to Pao.”

As Reclaim The Net reported, “Pao was Reddit’s CEO for a few months, between November 2014 and July 2015. During her brief tenure, she earned the nickname ‘Chairman Pao’ for her strict pro-censorship policies that changed the culture of the platform.”

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