The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reddit's "Jailbait" finally shut down

Reddit screenshot discussing the pornographic images

For six years, the website Reddit has existed as a news aggregation site with a twist–it features over 67,000 communities devoted to all kinds of topics, where users can post content and comments. Though this type of news site has allowed millions of members to share information and find like-minded users, one community has drawn ire from Reddit fans as well as critics across the internet.

Jailbait was a Reddit community whose members posted pictures of underaged girls and then make sexual comments about them. Over the years there have been many complaints that Jailbait was creating a forum for sex offenders to brag about their exploits. Reddit never attempted to shut this community down; instead, staff members used the First Amendment's free speech clause to defend the continued existence of Jailbait. Technically, Jailbait was legal, since none of the pictures featured nudity or sex acts. Still, as a privately owned company, Reddit was not bound by censorship laws and could have stepped in at any time to shut this community down.

But then, something illegal did happen. Last week, a Jailbait user posted a picture of a 14-year-old girl in underwear and admitted that he also had several nude shots of the same girl. In the hours that followed, dozens of users posted comments asking for access to those pictures. The original poster eventually put up a picture of the girl performing oral sex and sent similar pictures to other users in private messages.

Reddit's staff got word of this post six hours after it went up and in response shut down the entire Jailbait community. Most likely, this was a preemptive act to ensure that Reddit wouldn't be held liable for distributing child pornography. It's sad, though, that an explicit picture of a child was what finally shuttered Jailbait–not the thousands and thousands of sexual comments that appeared hourly, describing acts that would place anyone on sex offender lists.

What's also sad is that Reddit was more worried about censoring its users than it was about girls being sexually harassed on the internet. Reddit made a choice in keeping Jailbait open for so long, and that choice seems to indicate that it values its bottom line more than it values girls.

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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