Reddit, the user-driven online news platform, has taken the unusual and extreme step of banning a subreddit devoted to supporting President Donald Trump as part of the platform’s efforts at curbing so-called “hate speech.”
The move comes amid a site-wide effort, Reddit says, at taking on “subreddits — or forums — and users that promote hate based on ‘identity or vulnerability,'” the outlet told CNN — and that includes, apparently, an outlet dedicated to promoting Trump and his agenda and organizing efforts to support the president online.
Around 2,000 subreddits were included in the purge, CNN says. The site announced the planned purge last week.
Reddit told the network that it tried to negotiate with The_Donald’s moderators, but even after a number of discussions aimed at toning down the subreddit’s content, the subreddit continued to be a “problem” for the rest of the Reddit community.
“Reddit said ‘The_Donald’ forum has consistently broken its rules, antagonized other communities, and the moderators have refused to meet Reddit’s ‘most basic expectations,'” CNN reported Monday. “The company also said it has given the community warnings and changed its moderators.”
Late last year, Reddit “quarantined” The_Donald, and placed a pop-up on the site warning users that they could be accessing “hate speech,” and barring the subreddit’s users from cross-posting content from The_Donald to other subreddits. Reddit also removed The_Donald from its search function and toolbars.
“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,” Reddit’s administration said in a statement on Monday.
Going forward, Reddit says it will no longer engage in negotiations with problem subreddits as it did with The_Donald.
Subreddit moderators will simply receive a warning and if their forums continue to violate the site’s rules, the forums will be banned. Individual users who fail to abide by the rules may find themselves suspended or banned for problem behavior. The site will also empower some of its moderators to become content editors, removing posts that run afoul of restrictions against racist or hateful speech and against inciting violence, either in the real world or against users of other Reddit forums.
Although Reddit seems to have taken extraordinary steps to control “hate speech” on its platform, other social networks, like Twitter, have recently increased their own involvement in user content, placing themselves in the position of acting as an editor, censor, and fact-checker for certain key users.
The change has many users — and even some legislators — concerned that social media outlets are now becoming speech police, and lawmakers in Congress moved, last week, to try to remove special protections given to outlets like Twitter who claim to allow users to converse freely without fear of censorship.
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