Update: I've got to take off for now. I hear the anger today, and I get it. I hope you take that anger straight to the polls next month. You may not be able to vote me out, but you can vote everyone else out.
It’s been a minute since my last post here, so I wanted to take some time out from our usual product and policy updates, meme safety reports, and waiting for r/livecounting to reach 10,000,000 to share some highlights from the past few months and talk about our plans for the months ahead.
We started off the quarter with a win for net neutrality, but as always, the fight against the Dark Side continues, with Europe passing a new copyright directive that may strike a real blow to the open internet. Nevertheless, we will continue to fight for the open internet (and occasionally pester you with posts encouraging you to fight for it, too).
We also had a lot of fun fighting for the not-so-free but perfectly balanced world of r/thanosdidnothingwrong. I’m always amazed to see redditors so engaged with their communities that they get Snoo tattoos.
Speaking of bans, you’ve probably noticed that over the past few months we’ve banned a few subreddits and quarantined several more. We don't take the banning of subreddits lightly, but we will continue to enforce our policies (and be transparent with all of you when we make changes to them) and use other tools to encourage a healthy ecosystem for communities. We’ve been investing heavily in our Anti-Evil and Trust & Safety teams, as well as a new team devoted solely to investigating and preventing efforts to interfere with our site, state-sponsored and otherwise. We also recognize the ways that redditors themselves actively help flag potential suspicious actors, and we’re working on a system to allow you all to report directly to this team.
On the product side, our teams have been hard at work shipping countless updates to our iOS and Android apps, like universal search and News. We’ve also expanded Chat on mobile and desktop and launched an opt-in subreddit chat, which we’ve already seen communities using for game-day discussions and chats about TV shows. We started testing out a new hub for OC (Original Content) and a Save Drafts feature (with shared drafts as well) for text and link posts in the redesign.
Speaking of which, we’ve made a ton of improvements to the redesign since we last talked about it in April.
Including but not limited to… night mode, user & post flair improvements, better traffic pages for
mods, accessibility improvements, keyboard shortcuts, a bunch of new community widgets, fixing key AutoMod integrations, and the ability to have community styling show up on mobile as well, which was one of the main reasons why we took on the redesign in the first place. I know you all have had a lot of feedback since we first launched it (I have too). Our teams have poured a tremendous amount of work into shipping improvements, and their #1 focus now is on improving performance. If you haven’t checked it out in a while, I encourage you to give it a spin.
Last but not least, on the community front, we just wrapped our second annual Moderator Thank You Roadshow, where the rest of the admins and I got the chance to meet mods in different cities, have a bit of fun, and chat about Reddit. We also launched a new Mod Help Center and new mod tools for Chat and the redesign, with more fun stuff (like Modmail Search) on the way.
Other than that, I can’t imagine we have much to talk about, but I’ll hang to around some questions anyway.
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Each year around this time, we share Reddit’s latest transparency report and a few highlights from our Legal team’s efforts to protect user privacy. This year, our annual post happens to coincide with one of the biggest national discussions of privacy online and the integrity of the platforms we use, so I wanted to share a more in-depth update in an effort to be as transparent with you all as possible.
First, here is our 2017 Transparency Report. This details government and law-enforcement requests for private information about our users. The types of requests we receive most often are subpoenas, court orders, search warrants, and emergency requests. We require all of these requests to be legally valid, and we push back against those we don’t consider legally justified. In 2017, we received significantly more requests to produce or preserve user account information. The percentage of requests we deemed to be legally valid, however, decreased slightly for both types of requests. (You’ll find a full breakdown of these stats, as well as non-governmental requests and DMCA takedown notices, in the report. You can find our transparency reports from previous years here.)
We also participated in a number of amicus briefs, joining other tech companies in support of issues we care about. In Hassell v. Bird and Yelp v. Superior Court (Montagna), we argued for the right to defend a user's speech and anonymity if the user is sued. And this year, we've advocated for upholding the net neutrality rules (County of Santa Clara v. FCC) and defending user anonymity against unmasking prior to a lawsuit (Glassdoor v. Andra Group, LP).
I’d also like to give an update to my last post about the investigation into Russian attempts to exploit Reddit. I’ve mentioned before that we’re cooperating with Congressional inquiries. In the spirit of transparency, we’re going to share with you what we shared with them earlier today:
In my post last month, I described that we had found and removed a few hundred accounts that were of suspected Russian Internet Research Agency origin. I’d like to share with you more fully what that means. At this point in our investigation, we have found 944 suspicious accounts, few of which had a visible impact on the site:
Of the 282 accounts with non-zero karma, more than half (145) were banned prior to the start of this investigation through our routine Trust & Safety practices. All of these bans took place before the 2016 election and in fact, all but 8 of them took place back in 2015. This general pattern also held for the accounts with significant karma: of the 13 accounts with 10,000+ karma, 6 had already been banned prior to our investigation—all of them before the 2016 election. Ultimately, we have seven accounts with significant karma scores that made it past our defenses.
And as I mentioned last time, our investigation did not find any election-related advertisements of the nature found on other platforms, through either our self-serve or managed advertisements. I also want to be very clear that none of the 944 users placed any ads on Reddit. We also did not detect any effective use of these accounts to engage in vote manipulation.
To give you more insight into our findings, here is a link to all 944 accounts. We have decided to keep them visible for now, but after a period of time the accounts and their content will be removed from Reddit. We are doing this to allow moderators, investigators, and all of you to see their account histories for yourselves.
We still have a lot of room to improve, and we intend to remain vigilant. Over the past several months, our teams have evaluated our site-wide protections against fraud and abuse to see where we can make those improvements. But I am pleased to say that these investigations have shown that the efforts of our Trust & Safety and Anti-Evil teams are working. It’s also a tremendous testament to the work of our moderators and the healthy skepticism of our communities, which make Reddit a difficult platform to manipulate.
We know the success of Reddit is dependent on your trust. We hope continue to build on that by communicating openly with you about these subjects, now and in the future. Thanks for reading. I’ll stick around for a bit to answer questions.
update: I'm off for now. Thanks for the questions!
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