Reddit, the ever-popular web forum, experienced some ‘technical difficulties’ that the people of subreddit r/the_donald found rather interesting. The entirety of a few pages on r/all, the page which hosts the entirety of the behemoth amount of posts on Reddit, was filled almost exclusively with posts from pro-Trump, high energy r/the_donald. Immediately, many users suspected this was likely a fault of the algorithm messing up. A more likely explanation, and possibly the only one, is that the code had been tampered with.
There are two ways of tampering that would cause r/all to behave in the way it has been for the past 45 minutes. The first would be someone deliberately trying to showcase only r/the_donald, which would likely get the culprit fired. The second would be someone deliberately trying to do just the opposite: Censor pro-Trump posts, which would also get the culprit fired, but for different reasons.
Reddit is no stranger to censorship of pro-Trump posts. Over the past few months there have been incidents wherein posts with 3,000-4,000 upvotes (a lot) would not appear on the front page if it was submitted to r/the_donald.
The following is the most compelling scenario that Reddit moderators and site workers are probably frantically trying to fix right about now.
Without diving into the code jargon end of things too much, Reddit’s ranking algorithm, which is responsible for the prevalence of posts on any given page, works by leveraging time and upvotes to create a reasonably fair and intuitive feed for its users.
“The score won’t decrease as time goes by, but newer stories will get a higher score than older. This is a different approach than the Hacker News’s algorithm which decreases the score as time goes by.”—Via Medium.com
If one of Reddit’s workers had tampered with that algorithm to create an exception for r/the_donald in order to present false evidence of Trump’s unpopularity, there would likely need to be upkeep to ensure things are working correctly and no one is the wiser. On one of these janitorial algorithm edits, today’s, it’s likely that someone tripped up and either deleted a key piece of code, or put things in reverse order. So, instead of the code giving r/the_donald the lowest chance of appearing on r/all, it became the highest priority for appearance, and at times was the only thing on r/all.
Or it was just someone who got access to the site’s administrative properties as the result of what’s called a “privilege escalation” (yes, that’s seriously the term’s actual title).
However, if this story were to hit the mainstream media’s radar, the suspects would be as follows:
- Russian hackers.
- Privileged, racist, Russian, white, privileged hackers involved in a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Who knows, they’re getting desperate.
Editors Note: If you have any solid theories or explanations, I’d love to interview you and do a proper write up. Thanks for reading! If you like what we do around here, follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, or sign up for our mailing list. Thanks!