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Reddit pulls 'jailbait' section after kid porn post

As of Monday night, the controversial "r/jailbait" section of social news site Reddit officially shut down. Again. This time, maybe forever. 

As fans of the r/jailbait section bemoan the the loss of their outlet to exploit photos of underage girls in the latest epic misunderstanding of the First Amendment, the confirmation of Reddit employee Max Goodman obtained last night from the Daily Dot remains. "The section has been shut down."

Good riddance to bad rubbish. You heard me.

Recently discovered by CNN's Anderson Cooper, Reddit's r/jailbait archive of user-submitted photos is long notorious among Internet enthusiasts. Here is the wretched truth known to hundreds of thousands before Cooper, and millions after: The Internet is lousy with self-justifying  "ephebophiles" who crawl the Internet, grabbing publicly available photos of post-pubescent girls from unsecured Facebook profiles and the like.

The photos may feature young ladies experimenting with sexy poses, as they often do, or just as likely, getting their soccer on, or hanging out at the beach. These purloined pics are then exploited on r/jailbait or other ephebophiles'sections for sexual objectification. Well not on r/jailbait anymore, not right now anyway.

"PC bulls*** excuses" and the prediction that Reddit will now remove all content Anderson Cooper finds offensive were two oft-repeated remarks on Reddit Tuesday. (If that's the case, say goodbye to your spinach macros, Redditors! Anderson Cooper hates spinach!)

This latest shutdown of the r/jailbait section isn't directly the result of Cooper's vocal shaming, however. Cooper's report did bring added attention to Reddit and the jailbait section — more than 30,000 more visitors to the already-popular section, 4 million page views and more than 1,000 new subscribers to Reddit, the Daily Dot noted.

What's more, it's not the first time r/jailbait went down. As Jezebel reported in August, the section went offline briefly not as a matter of taste, but because of a power struggle between moderators.

The final straw involved a photo of a girl a Reddit user linked, claiming the girl was his ex-girlfriend — 14 years old at the time the picture was taken. She was clothed in the image,  as is the r/jailbait condition that skirts the child pornography laws. But the user did mention he had nude pictures of the girl as well. At least 70 users requested copies

After a few hours, the user "relented somewhat and posted another picture," which other users reported to the site administrator, Jezebel reports:

According to Matthew Sharkey, a Reddit user who was monitoring the thread at the time, the picture was of a child's face with blond hair. The top and bottom of the image was censored with images of the Power Puff Girls, but Sharkey says that, based on unobscured parts of the image and comments made by TheContortionist, the girl in the picture was engaged in oral sex. (Sharkey notified the FBI about the thread soon after.)

By Monday evening, r/jailbait was replaced by this message: "This subreddit has been shut down due to threatening the structural integrity of the greater reddit community."

Reddit, which includes guidelines against ALL CAPS and grammar correction of other users, justified the existence of the r/jailbait section and other ephebophile subreddits in the past by describing itself as a bastion of "free speech."

As Reddit is not part of the U.S. government, your right to "free speech" does not apply. Free speech is not absolute. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater (the Onion just learned that) and you can’t say or do things likely to incite "imminent lawless action"  And that’s just to say that free speech is not an unlimited right.

 More on point here, private companies have no burden to provide a venue for free speech.  And who the heck wants to provide or facilitate this stuff, ever, anywhere?

Reddit is a business, and most successful businesses operate by conforming to the majority morals of the customers. That Reddit exists on the Internet — the "Wild West" nature of which some users continue to cling — doesn't make it above or beyond an expectation of taste.

What's more, as Reddit is within the moneyed Conde Nast family, it certainly has the bank to keep its website reasonably non-exploitative.

Remember Twitter's big porn bot infestation in 2009, when half your followers were butts in thongs? These days, one or two may pop up now and again, but they don't last long before they're dumped from the servers.

Know how many kiddie porn rings Facebook has helped cops bust? Several. (I've asked for numbers in the past, but it's not the kind of ugly business the social network likes to share). Maybe Facebook can't block videos of Justin Bieber punching some girl for no reason, but good luck startng your own Jailbait Fan Page.

Reddit is an awesome place — where pictures of Puerto Rican street sharks emerge and are quickly debunked. Reddit users have the mighty super power to pressure Stephen Colbert into marching on Washington D.C. Reddit users organize the largest Secret Santa ever. Following the Haiti earthquake, Reddit users donated more than $185,000 to Direct Relief International. Unfortunately, Reddit also has kiddie porn fan boys, but their First Amendment rights do not apply.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, Reddit has the right to shut down users at its pleasure. It's not always fair when users get shut down, and at times it's important to raise a stink. When it's unjust, I'll be the first to make that stink. Ephebophile rights to exploit Facebook photos is hardly Arab Spring or #OccupyWallstreet. "First they came for the ephebophiles, and I said nothing," is nothing Martin Niemöller ever said. This is about the preferences — not the legal "rights" — of kiddie porn fan boys. Know how much sympathy I have for kiddie porn fan boys? None.

In the many dark holes not infested by cats, the Internet remains a mostly-disgusting place where evicted r/jailbate dwellers will quickly find new homes. (That's why God invented 4chan!) But the "other kids are outside playing" justification got old around the time our parents stopped dictating our bedtimes.

More on the annoying way we live now: 

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or FacebookAlso, Google+.