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Reddit Shuts Down Controversial /r/jailbait Subreddit

Questionable forum for pics of young girls gets banned

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Reddit Shuts Down Controversial /r/jailbait Subreddit
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If you aren’t familiar with Reddit, let me attempt to explain it to you in the simplest of terms: Reddit is an online community built around the aggregation of all things internet. This includes news, photos, user-generated content and more, all user-submitted. What makes it to the “front page” of Reddit is determined by the amount of votes each post acquires. Registered users can upvote and downvote each individual submission. Its slogan is “the front page of the internet.”

Reddit is a massive beast, and it contains thousands of individual “subreddits” – basically a system used to categorize the topics of the millions of posts. Some of the more mainstream and recognizable subreddits (identified as reddit.com/r/_______ ) include /r/pics, /r/gaming /r/askreddit and /r/politics.

But being such a large and diverse community, the subreddits extend far beyond the general and mainstream to the super-specific and obscure. There are subreddits called /r/bonsai, /r/starcraft, /r/bicycling and /r/dwarffortress. And those are just the tip of the iceberg – there are thousands of individual subreddits covering topics you would never dream existed.

This brings us to /r/jailbait.

/r/jailbait is a subreddit that houses photos of young girls, usually aged anywhere from 15 to 18 (although most are under 18). The photos feature the girls in suggestive poses or wearing suggestive clothing – oftentimes both. The key thing about /r/jailbait is that the girls are never nude – maybe in a bikini, or covering themselves up with something – but never fully nude.

The point of /r/jailbait is obviously to see young girls in a sexually suggestive context, there’s no getting around that.

I should say that the point was to see the girls in this context, because as of Monday afternoon, the subreddit no longer exists. It has been shut down because it “threatens to structural integrity of the greater reddit community.”

There are a couple of things that might have contributed to Reddit yanking /r/jailbait. The first, and most obvious reason has to be the recent attention that the site has been getting in the national media. This is due, in large part, to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He discussed /r/jailbait on his nightly news show last month –

This led to quite a bit of Anderson Cooper discussion within the Reddit community. There was a lot a vitriol towards the anchor regarding his reddit slam, although some Redditors defended him. The oddest thing to come out of the Anderson Cooper thing was the creation of the subreddit /r/cooperjailbait, which, among other things, features Anderson Cooper photoshopped with or on images of young girls.

The other thing that probably had a big influence in Reddit shutting down /r/jailbait is a particular post made to the subreddit on Monday. A user posted a photo to /r/jailbait with the heading “Repost of An Ex (She was 14 here).” The photo in question was the normal scantily clad fare that used to adorn the jailbait subreddit.

But in the comments, the poster said that “this is the only non nude photo I have of her.” That prompted tons of users to request to see the nude pics in the subcomments. They suggested that the user private message them, another user saying, “I WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND FOREVER, BRO.”

Screenshots of the exchange began to show up on other subreddits, like /r/wtf. Here’s the conversation in question –

On one of the posts that pointed to the “dozens of reddit posters hounding the OP for nude images of the child,” a moderator for the /r/jailbait subreddit addressed the concerns of other redditors (and yes, his name is “I_RAPE_PEOPLE”):

It’s possible that this incident was what led to the ultimate shutdown of /r/jailbait.

Today, Redditors have been sounding off about the shutdown of /r/jailbait. One front page discussion is titled “Reddit has entered a new age.” Here’s what the thread creator, Robamaton has to say:

For better or for worse, Reddit has moved from a non-interventionist to a policing organization. We’ve been expecting this for some time, but here it is, folks!

Maybe we should start a poll on which sub-reddit will next be deemed to be “threatening the structural integrity of the greater reddit community.”

EDIT: Yes, I know this is not the first time they took something down. However, this is an issue that Reddit has been debating for a while, and the Admins had for a long time responded by stressing our values of Free Speech. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a major shift in policy.

A response to this from frederid reads:

Reddit is owned by a corporation that has to protect its investment. If you want a “free” and “open” site that will accept anything go start one yourself.

Reddit was acquired by publishing giant Conde Nast in 2006.

Here are some thing to consider regarding Reddit’s decision to 86 /r/jailbait:

Is the content on the subreddit illegal?

Distasteful for some, questionable to most – yes. But is anything that was happening on /r/jailbait (sans the transfer of nude underage images) actually illegal?

Remember, the photos the populated /r/jailbait were of clothed girls. Scantily clad at times, but always covering up the main parts that one would have to cover up to, let’s say, put it on broadcast television.

Many of the photos that populated /r/jailbait were the type of thing that you could see on Facebook at any time, such as a bunch of 16-year-old girls in bathing suits striking a pose on the beach. In fact, a good number of the photos posted to /r/jailbait were directly pulled from users screencapping Facebook photos.

Is the context the issue? Grouping the photos in a category called “jailbait” and having people comment on them – is that what makes it so distasteful to most people? By themselves, the photos did not fit a classic definition of “pornographic,” and many of them could have been seen on a teen’s own MySpace page. But by putting them in that context, does it then sexualize them to a pornographic degree?

What about other “distasteful” subreddits?

Like I said before, there are tons and tons of subreddits out there. And some would argue that many of them are equally distasteful or more distasteful than /r/jailbait.

For instance, we have /r/beatingwomen, which is pretty much what it says it is. As of right now, it’s still up and running. There’s also a /r/picsofdeadbabies, which unsurprisingly features pictures of dead babies. It’s still up and running.

Are those any less controversial than /r/jailbait? Like the alleged transfer of child pornography that happened on /r/jailbait, doesn’t the discussion and pictures in /r/beatingwomen constitute a breach of the law as well?

What about /r/randomsexiness, a subreddit that “features girls of all sorts leaving something to the imagination.” This includes females of all ages, even admittedly jailbait. Will Reddit also shut down this subreddit?

There is quite a lot of backlash on the site today regarding the decision to pull /r/jailbait, but one top voted comment explains why one user doesn’t agree with the backlash:

I really don’t understand the backlash against the admins on this one. I personally don’t want to be labelled a pedophile when I tell people I browse reddit, and no I don’t blame Anderson Cooper for that, I blame /r/jailbait. He didn’t report anything non-factual. There was a massive community of people on reddit posting pictures of underage girls for people to fap to.

In many cases these pictures were taken from private facebook profiles with no knowledge of the person in the photo. I’ve said this previously, but I’ll say it again here: If you’re offended that people are against jailbait, go start a pro-jailbait protest, because it wasn’t reddit admins or Anderson Cooper that decided it was socially unacceptable to fap to underage girls, it was society as a whole. You aren’t being oppressed. You can go start your own jailbait website if you really want to. Reddit is not the government, it’s a website held on private servers that provides a public service. Reddit has an amazing free speech policy and I think they’re upholding it to the best of their ability. Things have to be removed in extreme situations and already are (distribution of private information, illegal content, etc) The community was a threat to the site’s autonomy, financial viability, and people’s ability to use it. I think the decision was just.

It’s clear by the public backlash and many commenters on Reddit, many people think that something like /r/jailbait should not be allowed to exist. If you are on the other side and you feel that there is nothing wrong with /r/jailbait or even if you do, you think it should be allowed to exist – it’s still hard to argue that Reddit (Conde Nast) doesn’t have the right to make this decision from a business perspective.

What do you think? Even if you find it questionable, should something like /r/jailbait have the right to exist? Or do you think that it qualifies as child pornography and should be banned? What do you make of Reddit’s decision to remove the subreddit? Let us know in the comments.

Reddit Shuts Down Controversial /r/jailbait Subreddit
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  • M

    Reddit’s response to CNN:

    http://tjandthetux.com/post/11316982432/reddits-co-founder-alexis-ohanian-fires-back-at

  • GalinKinlin

    I don’t think the sub was bad. It wasn’t. But naked pictures of underage women doesn’t turn out well for sites like Reddit. The fact that those people asked from them gave Reddit cause to protect themselves.

    Now, I have no problem with nudity like that. That may sound odd, but when I was 14, you wanna know who I wanted to see naked? 14 year old girls. I’m sure some fit into that category, but not all.

    They made a solid decision to protect the site as a whole.

    • MCF3778

      when I was 14 I wanted to see naked 14 year old girls… but never did…. so I am still on my quest! LOL

  • http://www.blackberryexpressions.com wes

    I may not agree with the content of the sub but there’s no such thing as “almost” free speech. This incident will no doubt lead to more censorship.

  • http://loufranklin.blogspot.com/ LouF

    “Free speech” means you have the right to speech. It doesn’t mean you are forced to exercise that right. What kind of degenerates are running reddit that they would choose to host /r/beatingwomen and /r/rape? What the hell is the matter with them?

  • Steve

    “The photos feature the girls in suggestive poses or wearing suggestive clothing – oftentimes both.”

    “Oftentimes” is not a word. The word is simply “often”. It’s a peculiarly American thing to say “oftentimes” and it’s wrong.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

      Merriam disagrees, as does Oxford:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oftentimes

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/oftentimes?region=us

      It was first used in the 14th century, so no, it’s not “peculiarly American.”

  • rachel

    well done…its so wrong

  • johan

    Since you asked, what I think is that child porn downloading should be made legal and if that is not a popular idea then tough, because an awful lot of people think that and it isn’t going to change any time soon.

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