Reddit has updated its policies on hate speech and banned approximately 2,000 subreddits, or groups, on the site that it found violates the new policies. One of those banned subreddits was a Trump-related group with which the president has no affiliation, called r/The_Donald.
According to Business Insider, the pro-Trump subreddit had 790,000 users.
Reddit explained why it banned the group in a letter to its users:
All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity. The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.
Another subreddit that was removed for what Reddit considers hate speech was r/ChapoTrapHouse, named for a podcast that is described by Reddit users as a far-left group who call themselves the “the dirtbag left” and discuss “leftist politics, and dunking on conservatives and centrist liberals,” one user wrote.
Reddit Said It’s Their Responsibility to Keep Users from ‘Weaponizing Parts of Reddit Against Other People’
Reddit, which touts itself as the “front page of the internet” said it’s working on “closing the gap between our values and our policies to explicitly address hate.”
The changes come on the tail of several corporations pulling ads from Facebook, demanding the social media giant take a stronger stance on hate speech and effectively ban it from the site.
Reddit has long been a place where groups form and enjoy relative freedoms to discuss and post a lot of things that would not fly on other sites, like nudity and yes, hate speech.
According to Inverse, “Reddit has definitely fostered a space for trolls to worship Donald Trump, and given misogynists a bonding opportunity, but it’s also created a huge, supportive network of users that are just waiting to answer literally any question you have about anything. And that includes sex.”
That’s because Inverse called the site “arguably the online world’s most anonymous playground.”
The new policies won’t change a lot of that aspect of Reddit, but it will work to end hate speech against groups it calls “marginalized or vulnerable.”
Reddit said that “includes groups based on their actual and perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or disability. These include victims of a major violent event and their families.”
Reddit said in a letter to its users, “Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to support our communities by taking stronger action against those who try to weaponize parts of Reddit against other people…it starts with dealing squarely with the hate we can mitigate today through our policies and enforcement.”
Reddit Says it has ‘Fallen Short’ on Content Moderation & Asks for Users to Help ‘Combat the Bad Actors, Abusive Behaviors, & Toxic Communities’ on the Site
15 years ago today, Reddit was created. 🎂
— Reddit (@reddit) June 23, 2020
Reddit said, “Our policies will never be perfect, with new edge cases that inevitably lead us to evolve them in the future. And as users, you will always have more context, community vernacular, and cultural values to inform the standards set within your communities than we as site admins or any AI ever could.”
The company says they understand that users need more support in moderating the site, writing, “We admit we have fallen short towards this end. We are committed to working with you to combat the bad actors, abusive behaviors, and toxic communities that undermine our mission and get in the way of the creativity, discussions, and communities that bring us all to Reddit in the first place.”
According to Foundation, 26.4 million Americans use Reddit every month. The company which was founded in 2005 saw its userbase grew by 30% in 2019. Reddit is the sixth most popular website in the U.S.