“Collective Evolution” is a woo website that promotes many conspiracy theories, particularly about aliens, alien technology and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A brief glance at their website reveal posts talking about how Churchill supposedly believed in aliens and covered up UFO information, conspiracy theories about the United States government and financial system, crop circles in the Amazon, reptilian creatures in ancient civilizations, misinformation about nuclear power, secret governments, crank claims about quantum mechanics, the Illuminati, eastern mysticism about meridians, auras and the lost continent of Atlantis.
They call themselves an “alternative news” website, but just like “alternative facts” are actually falsehoods, “Collective Evolution” is a website with new age woo and alien conspiracy theories with very little actual news value. Their social media pages routinely post vague inspirational messages and have been parodied and mocked across the Internet.
What events led up to the allegedly permanent suspension?
On February 22, the subreddit r/IAmA posted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread where scientific experts from NASA answered questions about the recent discovery of a star that had seven exoplanets (of comparable sizes to Earth) orbiting around it. At the time this article was published, it had gotten close to 6000 comments. The basic idea on an AMA is that the person holding it presents what they are doing and invites and answers any questions related to their expertise.
The “Collective Evolution” Reddit account (CEnews) decided to ask a completely unrelated pseudoscientific question on conspiracy theories about NASA and aliens:
A while later, the people behind the CEnews account noticed that their account had been suspended. What is going on?
“Collective Evolution” explicitly admits to vote manipulation
Joe Martino wrote a post on their website on February 22 about the event. Unlike Mike Adams reacting to “Natural News” being removed from Google search results, it was not a rage-filled rant that posited the existence of global conspiracies targeting far-right material, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones and the Trump administration. Instead, Martino largely withheld from making grand speculations, stating that “for all we know it is simply the action of a Reddit moderator wanting to control conversation in their own way” or that maybe “they were told to keep questions safe and simple, about the subject only.”, yet calling the suspension “curious”.
It is not yet possible to independently confirm or refute the notion that the suspension is permanent, though. The only evidence comes from a screenshot posted in their post. If more evidence becomes available, this article will be updated.
So what happened? Well, the “Collective Evolution” post has some clues as to what might be behind this suspension. Unfortunately for them, it is completely unrelated to their conspiracy theories about NASA hiding information about aliens and alien technology. In their post about their suspension, they write the following:
Asking people to vote up posts or comments constitutes what Reddit calls vote cheating or vote manipulation. Other examples of this behavior involves automation or making or joining groups that are designed to manipulate the vote system. It is also a violation that can lead to suspension. Here is what the Reddit help page says about vote manipulation:
So their suspension has a perfectly natural explanation completely unrelated to their conspiracy theories about NASA and alien technology: they broke the rules by encouraging people to upvote their comment. Even worse, they explicitly admitted to vote manipulation in their post complaining about getting suspended by Reddit. The people at “Collective Evolution” probably did not review the Reddit rules carefully, violated them by asking for upvotes and got suspended (or potentially permanently banned).
It would not take long before a link to their article about the suspension came up on the r/conspiracy subreddit. At the time this article was posted to Debunking Denialism, the r/conspiracy post had gotten ~130 comments and ~640 upvotes.
If one gets suspended or banned from Reddit, they always provide the user with a reason. So far, “Collective Evolution” has not shared that information with their viewers or the world. Doing so will help the rest of us to get a better idea of what happened. Of course, if it was as simple as vote manipulation, sharing this information with their followers might reduce their ability to portray themselves as innocent victims of supposedly “evil Reddit moderators” or the “alien conspiracy” nonsense.