Reddit has always been a place where communities could come together and talk freely. Forums on Reddit, called subreddits, are vast and total over 100,000 active subreddits. Topics are so varied it captures even the most niche of topics without much moderation from Reddit themselves. Because of the rather unfiltered nature of these forums, it’s not uncommon to see a lot of misinformation, hate speech, racism, and the like.
In light of recent events, Reddit has answered the call to further purge its site of communities that not only break site-wide rules but also promote hate, disinformation, and extremist attitudes.
Closing about 2,000 subreddits, this has been the largest site-wide sweep the service has initiated. One of the subreddits that they have banned includes a community named, The_Donald. This particular subreddit, as evidenced by the name, is a forum for Trump supporters and fans. It is unofficially related to the president but it does play host to a lot of his vocal supporters who, more often than not, promote unhealthy conversation and attitudes.
In 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president, members of The_Donald promoted offensive speech and joined together to manipulate other forums. Reddit had already noticed how the community was operating and put it under “quarantine” last year to isolate it from other Reddit communities.
“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,” according to a public announcement made by Reddit last Monday, “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. “
Apart from r/The_Donald, Reddit listed 10 other banned communities from the thousands they shut down. These include r/darkhumorandmemes, r/chapotraphouse, r/consumeproduct, r/darkjokecentral, r/gendercritical, r/cumtown, r/imgoingtohellforthis2, r/wojak, and r/soyboys.
Reddit’s leniency towards redditors coupled with the fact that it’s one of the largest and most visited sites on the internet gave power and confidence to abusive groups such as the ones mentioned above. Earlier this month, co-founder Alexis Ohanian left his position on the board of directors saying much needs to be done to clean up the site. With Ohanian’s recommendation on hiring a person of color, CEO Steve Huffman replaced Ohanian with CEO of startup incubator Y Combinator, Michael Seibel.
“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,” the company said. “In the near term, this support will translate into some of the product work we discussed with mods. But it starts with dealing squarely with the hate we can mitigate today through our policies and enforcement.”