One of the most popular discussion/message groups on the social media platform Reddit was shut down by the company today. The channel had over 790,000 subscribers before it was dismantled for frequent rule breaking, and not meeting the company’s “expectations.”
r/The_Donald was what is called a “subreddit,” group where people discussed and posted funny memes in support of President Donald Trump. But it was a rough-and-tumble neighborhood on Reddit, created in June, 2015 immediately after Trump announced he was running for president. When it was shut down this morning, it was one of the most active forums on the Reddit platform.
Reddit describes itself as the “front page of the Internet.” The company in June of 2019 had quarantined the forum and required users to click an opt-in button before showing it. It also prevented advertising that Reddit allows on other forums.
According to Wikipedia, the r/The_Donald subreddit had a lengthy documented history of hosting conspiracy theories and content that was racist, misogynistic, islamophobic, and antisemitic.
Social media companies are taking a more active role in policing hate speech online, as advertisers have pulled their ads off of pages such as Facebook and Twitter because of what they see as hate speech.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced in a post that r/The_Donald channel is just one of about 2,000 newly banned subreddits, including at least one prominent liberal group, “Chapo Trap House,” which has about 160,000 regular users and which was a pro-Bernie Sanders group. Most of the groups banned were dormant.
The website posted the following explanation:
“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.
“Though smaller, r/ChapoTrapHouse was banned for similar reasons: They consistently host rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.”
The new Reddit rules are as described here:
- It starts with a statement of our vision for Reddit and our communities, including the basic expectations we have for all communities and users.
- Rule 1 explicitly states that communities and users that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.
- There is an expanded definition of what constitutes a violation of this rule, along with specific examples, in our Help Center article.
- Rule 2 ties together our previous rules on prohibited behavior with an ask to abide by community rules and post with authentic, personal interest.
- Debate and creativity are welcome, but spam and malicious attempts to interfere with other communities are not.
- The other rules are the same in spirit but have been rewritten for clarity and inclusiveness.