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by Paula Bernstein
August 29, 2013 2:52 PM
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Attention Film Marketers: Don't Try to Scam Reddit

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:


  • Smartfan | September 1, 2013 12:55 PMReply

    This seems old. Didn't Reddit say they were wrong and it wasn't Warner Bros.?

  • ORQNGENEKO | August 31, 2013 8:56 PMReply

    Love it, guys. You further promote the movie after 'blogging' about a shady mishap related to it... -_-

  • kill | August 31, 2013 7:13 PMReply

    Reddit takes itself way, way too seriously. Congrats, you spotted someone plugging a film. Not saying it's ok, but, who cares. There are thousands and thousands of posts a minute, millions of users, people can choose to upvote and downvote whatever they find value in. So they write an open letter for congratulations as if they took down a drug ring. Meanwhile, you'll have thousands of redditors 'boycotting' a movie they know nothing about, based on this absolutly minuscule event, acting like they're taking a stand, or something. That's the problem with reddit, every comment has more passion than the user really feels. None of it matters 10 seconds after you close the page. All a waste of time.

  • lakawak | August 31, 2013 3:05 PMReply

    It never occurred to you to include some of the posts in question?

    NAhhh...that is why you are a blogger and not a real writer. That is why you don't actually earn a living with your writing.

  • livebythem | August 31, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    Actually, reddit updated and apologized for being wrong about it.

    "After further investigation, we have found that neither Warner Bros. nor any of their employees was involved in this activity. To be perfectly clear, the posts that we detected came from a third party who had no affiliation with Warner Bros. This third party was not part of the marketing efforts of Warner Bros for the film. We regret confusion about the source of these posts, and appreciate the cooperation and understanding of Warner Bros who has taken this as seriously as we do and has very strict policies on these matters."

    The comment section wont let me post a link, but go click the reddit link now, its been updated with an apology.

  • Dave | August 31, 2013 10:14 AMReply

    Looks like just another crappy movie.

  • Scott | August 31, 2013 8:42 AMReply

    Well, it worked. Look at all this free advertising - I hadn't even heard of the film till I read this.

  • Mikey | August 31, 2013 9:18 AM

    Yep. And these idiots even put up a link. Holy rewarding failure Batman.

  • nurple | August 31, 2013 8:15 AMReply

    Reddit is hopelessly hopeless

  • Frank | August 30, 2013 5:30 AMReply

    Warner Brothers is hopelessly hopeless