The acronym “SRS” ring a bell with you? If so it’s probably because you spend more than your fair share of time browsing the internet and have bumped into what is quickly becoming the boogyman of the internet. What was once isolated to a small subsection of reddit has now spread to 4chan, Something Awful, Tumblr and more. Well… spread is a strong word, there’s no actual evidence or proof that members of “SRS” are moving about the internet, but they’ve become a sort of shadow that scares the children at night.
As a little background, reddit.com is a social bookmarking site. You go in, find links you like, vote on the best ones, and those get put on a front page of sorts. Inside this social bookmarking site you can create your own specialized communities with their own individual focuses. One of those communities was something called “Shit Reddit Says”. The subreddit started off as a place much like reddit’s “Circlebroke” or the like as a place to point out the less than fashionable things that reddit votes to the top of the page.
So the subreddit focused on instances of racism, casual misogyny, homophobia, etc. and pointed them out as instances where a lot of people were promoting that sort of behavior. It’s not an innoble goal and it certainly stands to make a point about how we as a society have weird boundaries over what you can say but shouldn’t, and if only the story had ended there.
Well rumor has it (and I don’t know how true this is because quite frankly I’m to lazy to browse Something Awful), that Shit Reddit Says was actually a puppet subreddit created by members of Something Awful as a way to mock reddit. Why Something Awful would give two shits as a community about reddit you can be the judge of, but that’s what the rumor mill says. It further goes out on a limb that Something Awful created shit reddit says as a way to get reddit destroyed (again for whatever reason).
Now this complex social history would be fascinating but it doesn’t even stop there. To understand this fascinating little rabbit hole we have to go even deeper because 4chan and tumblr get dragged into this clusterfuck too.
Let’s cover a little background. 4chan is an image board that was born on Something Awful back in 2004. It was high internet conspiracy theory that Something Awful has looked down on 4chan for being a shit hole (can’t really contest that fact). There have always been claims that Something Awful has been out for 4chan, trying to destroy it, whatever else. As best as my research goes, 99% of this is patently untrue.
Anyway, 4chan is a community that builds itself up for some time growing internal culture / memes / whatever else. Then Reddit rolls in around 2006ish as a social bookmarking site. The site does moderate successful until Digg (another social networking site) moves the bulk majority of its traffic from just technology to all kinds of social content. With that move Digg began to bleed user’s to reddit culminating in a massive migration with Digg’s v4.
So you think to yourself “Ok how does 4chan factor in”. Well the user’s at 4chan began to join reddit because it offered an influx of technology content mixed with a semi-interesting user base that was old digg user’s and content. The two mingled and basically created what we might call the reddit of today.
So anyway, here you have reddit sitting as this mixture of Digg.com and 4chan.com users browsing for news. Easy enough right? Well shit reddit says starts getting active. They start taking on a few Social Justice projects that were gaining a fair amount of speed at Something Awful at the time and would later be what tumblr ended up becoming so popular for.
As part of this switch to Social justice, SRS wanted to create a safe space. They were talking about topics that could possibly offend and they didn’t want to derail the conversation too much with people getting upset over the topics being discussed At the same time they wanted to do it in a bit of a light-hearted manner.
So then.. the banning starts. SRS figured the only way to make it clear they weren’t going to deal with the nonsense was just to ban offenders on site, which given 4chan and subsequently Reddit’s very pro “Free Speech at any and all Cost” rubbed some folks the wrong way. The problem was that SRS didn’t stop by cleaning up their own house, they set their sights on bigger targets.
Reddit at the time, you see, was hosting a subreddit called /r/jailbait. There’s no beating around the bush on this one, /r/jailbait was a place that redditors were exchanging pictures of clothed but sexually suggestive photos of young girls (as in young enough to warrant a visit from the FBI young).
Now let me be clear, the Reddit community was always sort of 2 sided on this matter. On one side you had the folks that stated that as long as it wasn’t technically illegal it should be protected as free speech and the other side that stated that it was quite frankly fucking creepy. I’ll let you guess where my position lies on that one.
Anyway SRS and coincidently Something Awful both make these large pushes and threads discussing the creepy nature of /r/jailbait and begin running campaigns to bring it to the attention of major media outlets. Well just so happens shorty after Something Awful’s thread and SRS’s continued efforts a major news company did pick up the spot. CNN’s own anderson cooper ran a piece about /r/jailbait much to the chagrin of the Reddit Admin’s and no doubt the publishing company which runs the show Conde Nast / Advanced Publications.
Shortly after that the Reddit admins made the call to nix /r/jailbait. The uproar was somewhat explosive to say the least… BUT the story doesn’t end there. No instead SRS taking this sort of victory in their book figured if they could knock out one major creep factory why not knock out a few more. In the following months their campaigns managed to get additional subreddits (such as /r/creepshots) also knocked out by bringing the issue to public attention and forcing Advanced Publications / Reddit to save face on the matter.
This all culminates in tracking down and exposing the great father perversion, a Mr. ViolentaCrez. So this fellow, ViolentaCrez was the moderator for /r/jailbait and a number of other less than sexually healthy subreddits (/r/deadteens or something similar at one point) . Anyway allegedly [no confirmation that I could find], SRS worked with the Gawker Agency (which had previously gotten in a tussle with Reddit over a fake cancer AMA) to reveal ViolentaCrez’s actual identity.
One CNN trip later, Mr. Crez’s perverted life was national news and Reddit’s admins were once again sour that they were being dragged into the light.
So you have this proactive group on Reddit with a very strong Social Justice twist born out of the same mentality that you see on Tumblr (A site 4chan got into a tussle with several times [and I believe I wrote about]) and Something Awful (Reports from SA tell me goons either really have a hard on for social justice or couldn’t care less, but judging from things like Retsupurae and their whole PewDiePie spiel I can’t imagine that it’s not at least somewhat part of the culture).
Anyway, to move further along this rabbit hole I need to give a brief history of the 4chan board /pol/. So /pol/ is the politics board on 4chan. It’s version 3 (perhaps 4) in a line of boards focusing on politics because for some strange reason that moot no longer cares about, the board is incredibly racist (trolling or unironically you be the judge). As a response each time moot blew away the board as to try to prevent the racism that was running so rampant. It went from /n/ -> /new/ -> /pol/ each time getting more and more rampant with the apparent racism.
Now this is where the fun begins with this whole boogyman thing. Now on /pol/ as well as 4chan’s /q/, /b/, and /v/ boards a great deal of discussion has been brought up about Reddit’s SRS. You might ask yourself why the hell a group calling itself Shit Reddit Says would care about 4chan to which the response is something along the lines of “Yeah why would they care?”
You see /pol/’s convinced itself somehow that threads and topics counter to libertarian or conservative agenda’s are actually just SRS agents trying to spread New Age feminist ideas. Actually it’s entirely possible that /pol/ is just trolling itself and in on the joke, but let’s assume for the sake of this boogyman theory that even a few believe that SRS legitimately wants to interfere with /pol/’s operation despite evidence as far as I can find to verify the matter.
Then of course consider that anytime an opinion with a slightly Social Justice Rage invoking stent gets downvoted, the response is almost immediately “SRS is in here downvoting” on reddit. In some kind of fascinating twist of fate, SRS was morphed into a boogyman of Social Justice.
/r/lgbt being taken over (a theory I, myself had in a previous thread), clearly an SRS takeover.
Being downvoted for saying something racist but funny to some? Clearly SRS
Posting liberal ideas on /pol/? Clearly SRS
In what I’m not sure to label as trolling or legitimate concern. Reddit’s SRS has turned into a specter of some sort. Used as a strawman to derail conversations about topics like social justice or the likes. Keep in mind the subreddit officially only boast a member count of around 25 / 30 thousand (as of this post). Quite a busy bunch given Reddit’s overall numbers [as well as 4chan]s are both in the millions.
If anyone’s got any more conspiracy stew to throw in the pot feel free to contribute, I just thought it interesting.