Reddit has been struggling to balance open communication with the desire to eliminate harassment and hate speech on its network. Until recently, users have been left to moderate their own subreddits. This relationship has broken down in many ways, and Reddit staff have stepped up to define harassment and ban subreddits that foster hate speech.
This week Reddit went a step further, by providing an official content policy defining what is and isn’t acceptable on the site. In an announcement to the Reddit community, CEO Steve Huffman introduced the concept of quarantining subreddits and banning others.
In addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else.
Huffman confirmed that some of the banned subreddits include a host of derivatives of racist subreddit r/coontown. While Huffman also expressed confidence that the new policies “strike the right balance,” one user questioned the real commitment to banning hate-based subreddits by listing all of those that escaped the ban hammer.
Another user noted that the new policy is entirely subjective, saying:
Reddit was once a safe-haven free from pressure groups. Anyone’s voice could be heard, because the admins were not the moral police, but just the nerdy tech support. Now you’ve made admins the moral police, and reddit a nanny state.
It’s clear though, that this policy was developed out of necessity. And while Reddit generally likes to give its users lots of leeway and deference, the new content policy is part of a continuing stand against hate speech and harassment.