Pro-Gorton trolls attempt to censor /r/lexington; mods say “nuh-uh”

On Friday, Lexington Times staff did what we do every Friday on Reddit, and posted our cheeky “Friday Review” on the popular /r/lexington subreddit.

The Friday posts typically has a large variance when it comes to “upvotes,” the way Reddit’s algorithm decides what content to display to users. Some weeks the post will only receive one or two net votes, and others it will receive 15 or more to reach the coveted top spot on Lexington’s Reddit crossroads.

This Friday, however, The Times courted controversy and shared a well documented article about the Gorton administration and LPD seeking to obtain Israeli phone hacking tools used by China, Russia, and Belarus, among others. The post also included an interview with Jesus Gonzalez, a local activist. Jesus was quite critical of Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton in his interview.

“Given the controversial nature of the post, I expected a few users would likely downvote it, but I never expected this,” the Times Web Editor a said in a statement. “We identified suspicious activity on the post following a review of the analytics provided to us by Reddit.”

The post had a meager upvote ratio of 28%, meaning that even with the Times’ dozens of adoring readers likely upvoting it, the post was buried by the Reddit algorithm and seen by very few users.

Oliva reached out to /r/lexington for comment, and a mod confirmed our suspicions: multiple accounts had apparently organized to falsely report the 100% factual, well documented post as “misinformation” and “spam.” Despite the pressure campaign, /r/lexington mods chose to leave it up.

A similar effort occurred over on Google News, as well. After multiple accounts reported the phone hacking story as misinformation, it was temporarily delisted from Google itself! Fortunately, the Web Editor, a former Berkeley resident, is personally connected to multiple Google engineers who happily restored it for him and even gave him some advice on how to optimize his content for wider distribution on the platform.

Lexington Times Google POC Lorel attempts to poach Times staff. Oliva wished him best of luck in his search.

Our take

The Gorton administration and LPD are obviously starting to feel the heat! Sometimes you have to hold our leaders’ feet to the fire, and it appears we still have some work to do. The Times editorial board should ramp up its ongoing criticism of local institutions.