Update: Read this story for the latest on the controversy.
Reddit, the news aggregation site, does not take kindly on anyone trying to game its system and has issued a stern warning to studios and content creators. The site recently called foul when Warner Bros. employees took to Reddit to promote the studio's upcoming movie "Getaway," starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez.
The moderator of the r/movies Reddit, mi-16evil spotted the questionable posts early this week after he was tipped off by users who spotted something sneaky going on.
The web site explained:
We take spamming, cheating, vote-rigging, and any other manipulation of reddit very seriously. We have always promised you that if we catch companies trying to game reddit we will call them out and let you know. The most common type of spamming/gaming/vote manipulation on reddit is by publishers who are attempting to increase traffic to their domain. We are able to ban domains and make the reason public in the ban message. In the case of a movie studio or other company attempting to game reddit, we don't have a similar automatic way of alerting users, so I am coming here today to let you know about a transparency issue with a studio that we have already taken care of.
A couple days ago your wonderful and vigilant /r/movies mods alerted us to some suspicious postings and comments related to the movie Getaway. We investigate all reports like this and after looking at these posts we were able to determine that this activity did indeed come from Warner Brothers employees, the studio for the film. The posts and comments were essentially ineffective and were actually all heavily downvoted. All accounts involved have been banned and we have spoken with Warner Brothers and let them know this is unacceptable. This appears to be just a few employees and not some company wide or systematic thing. We checked other posts about this movie and there are plenty of posts that are 100% organic and have no signs of manipulation.
If you work at a studio or other content creator please make sure you are familiar with our rules and our guidelines on self-promotion. If you want to promote your awesome works on reddit, buy an ad, don't try to interfere with organic activity.
Reddit users were not easily duped. "The posts and comments were essentially ineffective and were actually all heavily downvoted," general manager Erik Martin wrote in an r/movies post Wednesday evening. "All accounts involved have been banned and we have spoken with Warner Brothers and let them know this is unacceptable."
Meanwhile, If all of this controversy has made you curious about the movie, you can check out the trailer below: