We're banning behavior, not ideas.
A truly open, non-censored platform of communication is not sustainable if its authority is centralised. Being an ad revenue driven enterprise further compromises neutrality on Free Speech.
Yesterday Reddit's CEO, Ellen Pao, decided to ban certain subreddits that "harass" users. Reddit censoring or banning certain content is nothing new, it's not illegal nor even beyond their terms and conditions. Reddit is not a public service that owes free speech to its users.
Naturally, the question of other subreddits (often much much worse) comes up. Once you start banning things, not banning other things becomes harder to justify. As time goes by, the rules become stricter and the tolerated behaviour margin becomes smaller.
Perhaps at some point, every post on Reddit will have to be approved by an authorised thought policy enforcement group.
Centralised Authority, Distributed Responsibility
On one side, Reddit is being very dishonest, they claim to value freedom of expression while in reality this probably has very much to do with ad revenue. The bet is that the userbase is large enough that even if many Redditors leave there will still be enough to support the business of selling advertisement brain space.
Redditors lose confidence in their ability to express themselves freely on Reddit, while being well within the limits of the law. Because you never know, whoever is CEO that day might ban a community.
On the other side, this is a good reminder to everyone; To ensure your expression remains free, you need control over it. We need to not only keep tabs on free speech eroding legislation, we also need to ensure our tools are safe from abuse.
Jumping the Voat
One of the immediate reactions many Redditors had was to move over to Voat.co. Voat promises to be a bit different, on censorship they say:
While we don't necessarily approve or agree with all content that users submit to Voat, our policy is to not meddle and not censor content unless said content is illegal in Switzerland.
Who knows how long that will stay true, I guess until a big media corporation buys them out. It feels like the same story just repeats itself.