Reddit reviews hate policy and bans largest pro-Trump subreddit

30 Jun 2020

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Reddit has banned the platform’s largest pro-Trump subreddit as it ‘consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average’.

On Monday (29 June), Reddit took the decision to ban the largest subreddit on its platform dedicated to US president Donald Trump, as part of wider efforts to tighten its rules on hate speech.

The pro-Trump subreddit, entitled r/The_Donald, had previously been highlighted by Reddit CEO Steve Huffman as a group where users “relished in exploiting and detracting from the best of Reddit”. In a recent blogpost, Huffman had admitted that Reddit “has work to do” with its current content policy as it “does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism”.

Now, Reddit has banned r/The_Donald, stating that it has “consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average”. The social media company said the subreddit has antagonised other communities and its moderators have refused to meet Reddit’s “most basic expectations”.

Removing 2,000 subreddits

In total, Reddit has decided to remove about 2,000 subreddits for violating content policy. According to the company, the majority of these communities were inactive and only around 200 had more than 10 daily active users.

Along with r/The_Donald, the company also removed r/ChapoTrapHouse, which is a spin-out subreddit of popular political podcast Chapo Trap House. This move is part of the introduction of a new policy on hate speech that is intended to improve the experience of users on Reddit.

The company has previously been criticised for issues around content and moderation. In recent weeks, the moderators of the Ireland Reddit page made the decision to close the subreddit each night to “stem the flow” of racist and abusive content being published by sockpuppet accounts believed to be based in the US.

The social platform said that “views across the political spectrum are allowed on Reddit”, but that all communities must work within its policies and “do so in good faith, without exception”.

“Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalised or vulnerable groups of people,” the company said in its new content policy.

“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.”

Speaking to press, Huffman said: “Harassing speech or hateful speech prevents people from coming to Reddit and feeling safe and sharing their vulnerabilities … So if we have speech on Reddit that’s preventing people from using Reddit the way that we intend it to be used, or that prevents us from achieving our mission, then it’s actually a very easy decision.”

Trump and tech companies

Elsewhere, Twitch confirmed yesterday that it is temporarily suspending the US president’s account. The firm said: “Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch. In line with our policies, president Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

The Amazon-owned streaming platform cited two different incidents from campaign rallies that happened four years apart. Twitch said that politicians, like anyone else, must adhere to the platform’s terms of service and community guidelines. It added that it does not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content.

It comes after Twitter decided to hide a tweet published by Trump in response to the protests over the killing of George Floyd last month. Twitter said the post violated the website’s rules about “glorifying violence”.

In response, Snapchat said it would stop promoting Trump’s account on the app’s Discover page. In a statement the company said: “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality and justice in America.”

However, Facebook said it wouldn’t take any action on the same post published to its site. Since then, many large brands including Unilever and Verizon have taken a stand against the company through the #StopHateforProfit campaign, vowing not to advertise on Facebook’s platform until the social media company makes a greater effort to tackle hate speech.

In Facebook’s most recent statement on the matter last week, the company said it would start labelling potentially harmful posts, and would ban adverts that attempt to describe different races as a threat or could incite violence.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic