Jasmine Walker

Jasmine Walker has been an active volunteer moderator on for over a decade. She’s been an outspoken advocate for minority voices on the site and has worked closely with the site’s administration as they address racial, gender and other demographic issues on the platform, particularly in the wake of the George Floyd protests. She has been featured in podcast episodes and news stories related to racial discrimination on Reddit, has spoken at an internal Reddit meeting for Black History Month, has been a panelist for several Reddit Mod Summits, and hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session with the CEO of Reddit during the most recent Mod Summit. She is currently a contracted Reddit Community Mentor offering mentorship to Reddit communities in need of guidance. Her current mentee is a subreddit dedicated to the civil protests in Iran. Her passion and curiosity for the way technology intersects with social justice and society has given her the opportunity to work with the Citizens and Technology Lab at Cornell University and now the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS. Professionally, she works as an environmental health specialist and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from Tulane University and a dual Master of Public Health degree in Health Education and Communication and Maternal and Child Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Fellow Followup April 24, 2024

We spoke with Jasmine Walker, a DCSL/CCSRE Fellow in the 2023-24 cohort. With over a decade of experience as a volunteer moderator on Reddit, Jasmine has been a steadfast advocate for minority voices, collaborating with Reddit’s administration to address various demographic issues on the platform.

In this interview, we discuss Jasmine’s moderation (or MOD) work at Reddit along with her fellowship project that looks at the experiences of Black MODs in the Reddit community. Jasmine also discusses future research plans to explore moderation practices and other online communities across social media platforms, including Facebook and Nextdoor. She also expresses interest in the idea of studying kid moderators on Scratch, a phenomenon that Jasmine admits is both baffling and fascinating.

Tara: As a former Reddit Community Mentor, can you talk a bit about what that role has been like for you especially as a Black woman moderator doing research in this space?

So the specific contracting position that they had me in for community mentorship, it was for very experienced MODs to help with smaller, or any communities in crisis, get through problems they were having. I’m good with crisis. So, what they had me do was pair up. They basically put us all in a big spreadsheet of request that were coming in, the nature of the problem, and then who to reach out to to try to help them. So, I think I remember my biggest one was dedicated to–either Ukrainians living abroad or they were in Ukraine and they were being harmed by Russian trolls and they needed help protecting their community. So I just offered them advice as to what they could do; the rule sets they could make to make sure that they had rules that were following the content policy because, quite honestly, they’re at work. So, of course there’s violence. But they can’t say, ‘hey here’s how you make Molotov cocktails and here’s what you do with them,’ because that’s not allowed. They really had to toe the line on what they could and could not say. I was trying to help them kind of navigate how to not run afoul of the content policy, but to also get what they need to do done. They were organizing people and protests. So, yes it is touchy. I don’t even know if that community is still around. They might have closed up and moved elsewhere. People think Reddit is the Wild West, and perhaps it sort of is. But there’s also stuff that you can’t do. It’s not private like a Discord would be. The space is public, anybody can see it, anybody can report it, anybody can get it taken down. But Reddit is really helpful for learning new things or getting into niche hobbies. 

So yeah, that was a contractor position they had me in. I’m still a MOD for a bunch of things. Me being Black didn’t really have anything to do with the mentorship aspect of the job because I didn’t see any Black Subs that came in with issues that they need help with. But if there had been, they probably would have put me on those issues. 

Tara: How did you learn about the fellowship?

It was the Citizens and Tech [CAT] Lab at Cornell University. I’ve known Nate Matias for years and years now. I went to see the folks at CAT at MIT a long time ago. I met everybody and got to know the program. They’ve always had a research study that they wanted to do but they’ve had so many other projects come up, like this fellowship. They encouraged me to apply. I met Elizabeth Eagen who also did the fellowship. She thought I’d be great for it. I had three days to apply. It all went really fast. So, I applied and I got it. I was incredibly shocked when I found out I got the fellowship. But it’s nice to know people want to see what I have to say because even though I have a master’s degree and I was in academia, I’m not anymore. I’m just a regular person. 


I’m just a person who’s literally been a Reddit MOD for twelve years now. So yeah, I was really shocked that anybody would want to hear anything I had to say, but it’s exciting!

Tara: Can you talk about your current project and where you envision the project will end up once your fellowship is over?

So, right now I’m still collecting data for my project. But once we hit May 1st or maybe just the end of April, I’m going to turn off data collection for the survey. 

In terms of a synopsis, I want to know how Black MODs are doing. I’m starting with Reddit because it’s what I know. But I would like to expand to Twitter–or X–to Facebook, to Nextdoor just to compare because all the MOD spaces are different. For instance, at Reddit, we’re fully volunteer except for the couple admins that actually work for Reddit. But Meta and X all have employees, and with Nextdoor, I’m sure on the back end they have a trust and safety team. Nate Matias actually talked to Nextdoor and recommended safeguards that the company ultimately ignored. I’d be very interested to follow up on how that’s going!

So yes, I’d love to dig into all these social media sites and their differences when it comes to MOD spaces, especially for Black MODS. I remember a while ago when I was on Nextdoor in my old neighborhood, I had to eventually get off the app. I was reporting racism, but we didn’t see any changes or concern. But that’s just the nature of the Internet right now, that is, until more Black MODs step up and take these positions. 

Tara: What successes and challenges have you encountered so far as a fellow and what lessons have you learned, if any, during the fellowship?

In terms of success, I was so surprised that so many people wanted to give their opinions. I thought I would get like a hundred responses to the survey. I’m at 200-something now, which is shocking to me. They’re not all MODs. I’m also reaching out to people who have ever thought about being a MOD, and said no, or had been approached to be a MOD but they haven’t done it yet.

In terms of challenges, oh my gosh, technology and learning how to use Qualtrics! 


It makes sense once you get the hang of it, but getting there is ridiculously difficult. Then just going through IRB sucked too, but it had to be done. I’m not going to survey people without going through the IRB process. Other challenges probably include my own ADHD–waiting until the last minute to do stuff! It’s really just me–the challenge is me.


Tara: In what ways can the fellowship community continue to support your work?

I love hearing about everyone else’s projects. I also love being of help to others. So, staying connected would be nice, and then finding the right platform where we could all still talk to each other after the program ends. Helping people is literally mywhole life and job. If anyone ever wants to know anything about Reddit, I want to check in with them. 

If I’m able to continue this project into other social media spaces, then I’d love to have the connections to talk to people who worked on those teams before. I know that Katia used to work at Scratch, where they let children moderate. I would love to learn more about that because it seems so crazy to me!