This article was published on July 4, 2019

Reddit’s r/technology goes dark as part of #SocialMediaStrike

Reddit’s r/technology goes dark as part of #SocialMediaStrike
Ravie Lakshmanan
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Ravie Lakshmanan

If you were planning to spend the US Independence Day browsing Reddit’s r/technology, you’re out of luck. For the social news aggregation service’s popular tech subreddit has gone dark for 24 hours to voice solidarity with a social media strike.

“Following on from the announcement by Larry Sanger of a Social Media Strike, /r/technology is joining the #SocialMediaStrike. Normal service will resume on the 5th,” reads the message.

The strike, conceived by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, calls for digital independence from social media platforms. That means throwing off the shackles that chain you to social networks and compel you to share stuff there, except to post notices about the strike itself.

“We’re going to flex our collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give us back control over our data, privacy, and user experience,” wrote Sanger in his blog.

The social media boycott demands that there be better individual controls over user data, and improved privacy rights against criminal, corporate, and governmental monitoring. It also urges social media services to become more interoperable, and sharply criticizes the current practices embraced by popular platforms that have prioritized profit over all else.

In the Declaration of Digital Independence, Sanger voiced a number of concerns that have plagued the big tech companies, putting them in regulators’ and lawmakers sights frequently this year.

From taking down content based on political considerations to using their reach to influence elections, from adopting algorithms that make it easy to surface controversial content to making it difficult for users to understand how their data is collected, processed and shared, Sanger decried the companies’ exploitative approach to manipulate users for profit.

“The most reliable guarantee of our privacy, security, and free speech is not in the form of any enterprise, organization, or government, but instead in the free agreement among free individuals to use common standards and protocols,” Sanger wrote in the declaration.

The Social Media Strike is happening today and tomorrow, but it remains to be seen how much noise the blackout will make.

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