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Reddit bans r/The_Donald for violating new content policies

More than 2,000 communities were removed from Reddit for violating its new content policies including r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse. 

Reddit has banned about 2,000 communities including r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse after updating its content policy to ban hate speech more explicitly.
Reddit has banned about 2,000 communities including r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse after updating its content policy to ban hate speech more explicitly. (REUTERS)

Reddit has banned about 2,000 communities including r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse after updating its content policy to ban hate speech more explicitly. The platform’s policy update comes almost three weeks after Black Lives Matter protests across the US saw several popular Reddit forums go dark to protest against the platform’s lax policies on hosting and promoting racist content.

This decision to update content policy and ban subreddits is a major move for a platform that has been committed to ‘free expression’ and has been so dedicated to the cause, of sorts, that it once allowed users to distribute stolen nude photos freely.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said on a call with reporters that he has struggled with balancing his values on free speech and expression as an American and his own values along with those of the company’s around basic human decency.

Huffman said in a post about Reddit’s new rules that users of the r/The_Donald subreddit had violated the site's policies for years. The subreddit is not officially connected to Trump but he did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) there as a candidate in 2016. The subreddit has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average, antagonised communities and the platform and its moderators have refused to meet Reddit’s most basic expectations, Huffman said. These violate Rules no 1, 2 and 8 of Reddit’s content policy.

A spinoff of a popular left-wing podcast, r/ChapoTrapHouse has also been banned for hosting content that violates Reddit’s policies, said Huffman.

Reddit’s new policy’s first rule is that users must ‘consider the human’. “Remember the human. Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. Everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence. Communities and people that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned,” it reads.

Huffman told reporters that harassing speech or hateful speech prevents people from coming to Reddit and feeling safe and sharing. If there is speech on Reddit that’s preventing people from using Reddit the way it was intended, that prevents them from achieving their mission - the decision here is very easy then, Huffman added.

The introduction of the new policies has led to the removal of about 2,000 subreddits so far, and Reddit says that a vast majority of them were inactive and only about 200 of them had 10 daily users.

Of the 2,000 subreddits banned r/DarkHumorAndMemes, r/ConsumeProduct, r/DarkJokeCentral, r/GenderCritical, r/Cumtown, r/imgoingtohellforthis2, r/Wojak and r/soyboys are some of them.

Reddit had quarantined r/The_Donald last year and placed it behind a warning screen for hosting content that incited violence. The company has also prevented posts from reaching the Reddit front page and former users had started moving to a new site off Reddit because of this.

This mass ban has hit some high-profile political communities but Huffman says that Reddit will continue to support a “broad range” of political speech. Huffman told reporters that political speech continues to be safe on Reddit, but communities will need to abide by the platform’s policies. If they fail to do so, they will not be allowed on Reddit.