Posted by Sydney Price
Reddit, the popular social media and aggregated content discussion forum, covers a staggering variety of topics – including illegal ones.
A recent WIRED article revealed that a representative from the Baltimore Department of Homeland Security requested Reddit to disclose information about five users who are under investigation for involvement with Evolution, an online black market website.
Evolution trafficked drugs, weapons and financial information. The website garnered attention when it suddenly shut down, taking millions of dollars in bitcoins with it and arousing suspicion of foul play.
On Reddit, these users (and many others) have been openly and publicly discussing black market dealings. Reddit has not yet answered whether they will or will not comply with the government’s request for information, but the website lists the following:
“We regularly get requests from governments and law enforcement agencies for private information about our users or to take down content or subreddits; we occasionally get requests from individuals. These requests are usually legitimate, and we push back on any that we view as overbroad or unnecessarily invasive of privacy. We want you to see what’s going on behind the scenes as much as possible, so we’re releasing annual transparency reports.”
In another section of Reddit do’s and don’ts, the first item on the “don’t” list is simply “[Don’t] engage in illegal activity.”
Personally, I think Reddit should provide the information the government requested, since users were blatantly talking about the details of criminal activity on a public forum. (ie. probable cause) However, should social media sites be responsible for users who choose to use their sites for such purposes? Where do you draw the line between individual privacy and public safety?