JMl!AMl.S l 111111:,04)JIU¢1. l"111,NOA Ccwu!r'lt'.lUI Vct-<wll. N~••N '1tongress of ti)r mnltell ~tates J!,>ou!ir of l~rprrsrntatil!ts '[\!]asf.nnl!lon, mic 20515-1403 May 28. 2020 Mr. Steve Hu ITman CEO & co-founder Rcddit. Inc. 420 Taylor Street San Fronciseo. CA 94102 Dear Mr. !luffman, I' m wri1iny you 10 express my disappoin1mcn1 over Red di I Inc. ·s decision 10 rdl11p up ilS censorship of the pro·Trump subrcddil, Rffhc_Donald. In Oc1obcr, l urged you to reconsider Rcddit's ban of rffhe _Donald from its main page nnd search resulls- a practice known on Reddit as a "quarantine". I described how since its quurnntinc, rffhe_Donald has largely comp Iicd wilh silcwidc content policies, while numerous Ion wing subreddlts have violated Reddi1's policies more ewegiously 1han rm1e_Donald ever did. lns1end of r~vcrsing rfrhe_Donald's quaranline, or applying its policy in a polilically neutral manner, Reddil decided 10 censor r/Thc_Donald even n1orc stringently. On February 26 Reddit adminis1ra1ors announced that they had removed several rflnc_ Donald user moderators for, "approving. stickying and generally supporting content in lhis subrcddit that breaks our conlenl policy.'' They went on to explain that future rfrhe_Donald moderators will be veued by Reddil employees according to various crileria. This policy only applies to rfl11e_Donald, moderators are self-selected in every other community on Reddic Given that Redd it administrators conveniently provided no evidence of speci fie wrongdoing by the removed rffhe_Donald moderators, it's impossible to refute any specific charges. However, it's easy to prove: Lhal I.his dccisionl like the decision lo conlinuc Rfrhc_Donald• s quarantine, \V3-S politically motivated. Many modemtors of polilically-neutral or lenwing subreddits have violated one of your site's 1nos1 serious rules..-."do not post content thal encourdges violence''- bul have faced no repercussions. User "underbridgc" who moderates the anti-trump subreddit, "rffheDrumpf," posted that he would like to make GTrump-ade" for Trump supponers, "Then pul arsenic in it And tell them to all drink it fast on MAGA Day." User "davidrciss666" who currently moderaics r/Liberal and r/PoliticalOiscussion pos1ed that "the only way to fix this [Trump's presidency I is cxtro·constitutional. Aocording to him, "Trump deserves similar treatment" 10 Mussolini, whose '·body was hung from the roners ora service s1a1ion.• I' m not going 10 beleaguer my poinL nod Iisl the hundreds or unaddressed, rule-breaking comments from lefi-\\ing modera1ors, but they arc easy to find. Since 2016. lherc have been countless Congressional hearin&S, opinion piccc:s, und academic studies examinini: lhe ability of lar11e social media sites, like facebook and Twiller, 10 arrcct electoral outcomes. Reddil has avoided similar scrutiny, but with 430 million momhly active users it is one ol'the largest social media website.~ on 1he internet- by lhat metric, larger even th'1n ·rwittcr~ Unques:tionabty, Rcddit can infl\1ence palitiea1 ot1teon1e-s. A f!1Ct not loro:t on you: in 2018. you told Andrew Marontzofthc New Yorker, -J'm confident that Rcddit could sway elections," followed by "We wnuldn"t do ii. nfcou=.'' Well, you lied. You"vc tarsetcd supporters or a s~cilic prcsidcnliol candidate "ilh arbitrary, capricious censorship, and inexplicably bolstered your restrictions after the election process be~an. In short, your billion· dollor technology lirm is aggressively interfering in lhc 2020 elt(;lion. Al its peak, rm1e _Donald had around 790 thousand regular users, which is one of the reasons it pluycd such un important role in the 2016 cleclion. An ob,·ious example would be the July 27. 2016 qucs1ion~ld llnSWer session ~icn~andidale Trump held with bis supporters on rfThc _Oonald. Political subrcddhs also innucncc other online mcdiu plmfomts. According 10 u 2017 s1udy by the Uni"crsily College of London, nearly 6% of all news links on Twiuer could be troced bock to rffhc_Donald. TI1c researchers found thal in 2017 rmic_Oonald wus tlic single most ~active" and ..dlicient community" at disseminating political mcmcs. or course, these numbers would be much lower today. As intended, your censorship oflhe rn"he_Donald has seriously hindered the subreddits ability to sprt."ad President Trump"s message ahead of the 2020 ckcLion, trampling basic democratic and free-speech values. Unimpeded by censorship. the president's challengers continut.'<l lo use Reddit to promote their political platform and encout11se voter participation. On Super Tuesday, the top post on RJSandC<"SForPresident, provided residents of Super Tuesday slates with the location of their closest polling station, voting hours, whether same day regisll"alion is allowed and what type of primary the s1a1c holds. The second most visible post was made by an account owned by the Bernie campaign. It links to a toolkit for promotins Bernie Sanders on social media, which suggests specific hashlnss and sraphics ror Sandel'li supporters 10 u..w. At the same time, on rfThc_Doruld. because the subrcddit can't operate properly without moderators. posting is only available to certain prc·approved users. Just how much have your censorship policies aftccled r/Thc_Oonald"s abil ity to spread President Trump's political agenda? According lo the trallic analy1ics website scmrush.com. in February of2019. rffhe_Donald had an estimated 491,000 momhJy visitors. In March 2020 ScmRush cs1ima1es r!Thc_Donold will have 53,480 visitors. That's a tenfold reduction in innuence, all because of your censorship policies. But maybe Rcddil's political communities arcjLLSt less popular than they used to be? Nope. According to SemRush, over the snmc lime frame r/Sandersforl'residcnl's web tralTic multiplied by more than live times. As of May 27~1, Ilic mosl recent post to rffhe_Donald is from March. Ultimately. your targeted censorship of rfThc_Donald had its intended effect and snuffed out lhe politicnl community completely.