Reddit ‘Shadowbans’ Posts With Openload URLs


Reddit is actively shadowbanning posts that link to the popular file-hosting service Openload. To users it looks like their submissions are being published, but links are removed and posts are hidden from the public eye. Moderators can’t “approve” posts manually either, suggesting that Reddit doesn’t want any Openload content on its platform.

Openload is the largest file-hosting site on the Internet, generating more traffic than popular sites such as Hulu or HBO Go.

While the site has plenty of legal uses it is also a thorn in the side of many copyright holders, due to the frequent appearance of pirated content.

This pirate stigma recently resulted in a mention on the US Government’s list of “Notorious Markets”. 

In addition, it appears that the popular social discussion platform Reddit has taken action as well. The site is actively shadowbanning posts that include Openload links.

In practice, this means that the users who submit a post can see it just fine, but for other Reddit users the post’s content is effectively removed. Here’s how it looks for the submitter.

Looks normal right?

For other users, however, the post in question looks like this, with all the text removed. 

Removed for other users

We were alerted about this shadowbanning practice by a user who questioned why Openload uses so many different domains. That question was posted in the piracy subreddit, but it wasn’t linking to any infringing content directly. 

TorrentFreak spoke to /r/piracy subreddit moderator ‘dysgraphical,’ who notes that there is no way to reverse the action. Sometimes filtered links can be manually approved, but with the Openload URLs, that’s not an option.

“Reddit gives no explanation for how their filter works. This proves difficult for some users who often post collections of links in their threads,” dysgraphical tells us.

“Openload isn’t the only URL blacklisted by Reddit’s sitewide filter. There’s and a few other more; however some of them are ‘soft-filtered’ and can be manually approved,” he adds.

The shadowbanning practice isn’t limited to the /r/piracy subreddit either. We tested it in another subreddit with the same results. Links in a description are “removed” from public view. Posts linking directly to are not showing up in a subreddit or search, but these URLs remain intact.  

When searching Reddit for link posts to the latest result is from four months ago.

TorrentFreak contacted Reddit to find out more about the shadowbanning and why Openload was added to the list. At the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. 

It’s likely that Reddit took these steps to prevent spam or perhaps to limit the number of copyright complaints. While that’s up to the site’s management to decide, it would be helpful if they were more transparent about it. 

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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