r/SecurityClearance Is the Best Subreddit

An unhinged subreddit of people sharing their secrets before they share them with the U.S. government.
r/SecurityClearance Is the Best Subreddit

In honor of the United States’s birth, I would like to point your attention to what I believe to be one of the greatest communities of government workers and public servants on the internet: The r/SecurityClearance subreddit. 

r/SecurityClearance is a group of 53,000 people who have or who want to get security clearances to access classified information in sensitive government or government contractor roles, which is a notoriously invasive and paranoia-filled process. Like all online communities, the stories here must be taken with a grain of salt, but I have been obsessed with this unhinged corner of Reddit for the last few months, and I implore you to check it out. 

The security clearance process is basically a very involved background check that includes interviewing the candidate and people who have known them at various points in their life (I have been interviewed by the government about people I was not even particularly close with, because I knew them in elementary school). During this process, the government attempts to assess whether the candidate can be trusted with classified information and also whether they have anything that makes them blackmailable. This means that you are often ineligible for a clearance if you have done drugs, committed crimes, have particular sympathies to foreign governments, and things like this. 

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r/SecurityClearance, then, is mostly full of people who are asking whether they are going to be disqualified from getting a security clearance for things they have done in their lives that are either incredibly benign or incredibly disqualifying. Many, many of these posts are from people about whether smoking weed will disqualify them, the answer to which used to be “yes” but increasingly becoming “maybe.” Once you get past the weed questions, though, there are some true bangers. 

My favorite is “Will writing explicit, politically-inspired fan fiction raise a red flag?,” in which a user claims that they once “wrote a 20k fan fiction about the (personified) US and USSR having gay sex. I wish this was satire,” they wrote. “I already deleted the work, but I really miss it. Will republishing and continuing it be a red flag for my security clearance?” 

Other questions include whether they should tell the government about their incredibly large archives of porn (no), breaking into a swimming pool as a teenager (no), whether they will be rejected for “dating a Russian” (probably not), whether you will be rejected for being a “sovereign citizen” who wants to overthrow the government (yes), whether they need to stop doing furry NSFW fiction and art commissions on the side if they are granted a security clearance (maybe?), whether being into porn with “animal-like monsters, like werewolves and centaurs and stuff,” is disqualifying (probably not), whether “EXTENSIVE piracy” will be frowned upon, etc.

Much of the advice in the subreddit boils down to “be honest,” which I can only imagine leads to some very interesting conversations between prospective candidates and federal investigators.

Legendary threads include discussion of a person who lost their security clearance because they are Kim Jong Un’s cousin, someone whose boyfriend broke up with them because “I have a family member in Hong Kong” and used his security clearance as an excuse to break up with her, and the aforementioned US/USSR erotic fanfic person.  

There are also good questions about what can and cannot be brought into a sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIF), which are rooms in government offices where people with security clearances work with classified information. Some of these are reasonable (can I bring my newborn baby?) and some of them are less so (can I bring a knife?) 

I have become so fascinated with this subreddit because it is a mix of people sharing their deepest darkest secrets and people freaking out about absolutely nothing, and is a reminder that many of the government’s most trusted workers are freaks like the rest of us.