You’ve probably never heard of Voat, but the free-speech-loving little Reddit clone is the hottest website in Troll City today. After Reddit officially banned several abusive subreddits, a flood of Redditors fled to Voat, where similar subsites still exist. Voat is now drowning in the traffic and needs Bitcoin to stay afloat.
In a sense, Voat set itself up to enable harassment from the start. The site began as a student project in Sweden with the express purpose of allowing any type of content. Voat’s slogan, after all, is “the place where you can have your say™.” The About section elaborates on that idea: “No legal subject in this universe should be out of bounds.” So you want to make fun of fat people? Voat will take your posts.
Except it can’t. Not right now, at least. At the time of this posting, it took about two minutes to load a single page of text on Voat. Word got out quickly that newly-banned harassing subreddits like r/fatpeoplehate had been duplicated on Voat. Within hours, other mirror sites either appeared or spiked in popularity on Voat. For instance:
Now is a good time to point out that Reddit still loves free speech. The team post is very clear about this:
We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Hating fat people in the name of “greasy filth” is most definitely bad behavior. But as Jay Hathaway pointed out, racist subreddits like /r/coontown will remain in place, because, according to what a Reddit spokesperson told Hathaway,“Views we disagree with or find offensive will not be affected.”
So Voat is scrambling to give people a forum to behave badly. The top post on Voat at present is about how the site wasn’t prepared for the traffic and users implored each other to send Bitcoin to buy more server space. The only problem is that lots of this new users don’t know how to buy Bitcoin! But they’ll probably figure it out.