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Ireland Reddit page shutting overnight as moderators try to 'stem the flow' of extreme racist content

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The Ireland Reddit page is shutting down between midnight and 8am every day to try to “stem the flow” of extreme racist content, which may be coming from American sock puppet accounts.

Moderators of the page, which has over 280,000 members, said they have reached a “breaking point” for abusive and racist material in recent days.

It comes as far-right groups have started an orchestrated attempt to hijack online discussions about an attack in Carrigaline with racist commentary.

Reddit is one of the most popular discussion websites in the world, and describes itself as the front page of the internet.

Reddit is made up of subreddits on different topics, including a dedicated site for Ireland. The Ireland subreddit is monitored by voluntary moderators who either set up or help run the online community.

In a post on Monday night, the moderators announced that they had taken the “difficult decision” to shut down the Ireland page between midnight and 8am “in order to stem the flow of racist/extremist content which is being posted at these times.”

Moderators blamed a “multitude of sock puppet accounts” which are typically posting in American hours between midnight and 8am Irish time.

“This has resulted in the current [moderator] team having to spend several nights constantly watching every thread and comment submitted, along with banning dozens of accounts within the space of a short few hours. This has reached breaking point over the last few days,” the post said.

It said that it was often confirmed by Reddit administrators that racist abuse had often come from individuals running multiple accounts.

The moderators said they were at a “lost cause” trying to clean up “hate-filled messes” that were caused by inaction on the part of Reddit’s administrators. Many of the worst posts were also put up while moderators were asleep.

The Reddit page is now going to try to hire moderators based in different time zones, and set up an automated system which will flag racist and discriminatory language.

“While the vast majority of hateful comments submitted over the past while have been solely directed towards someone's skin colour, we are noting now that this automod filter list will include common phrases used against Traveller communities, and any other minority groups which we have found to have been of target by these accounts in the past,” the post said.

There has been anecdotal evidence of an increase in racist abuse and commentary online since a number of Black Lives Matter protests were held in Ireland.

Online Editors