Reddit to take aggressive stance against ‘toxic’ users after Donald Trump win

1 Dec 2016

Donald Trump at a rally. Image: stock_photo_world/Shutterstock

It was a case of ‘sorry, not sorry’ as the Reddit CEO admitted he crossed a line by editing users’ comments, but added that the site will no longer stand for trolling brought on by the election of Donald Trump.

Since the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, the subreddit dedicated to praising the president-elect has been the source of considerable controversy over the past week.

What started out as a trolling effort against the Reddit user Spez – who happens to be the CEO of Reddit, Steve Huffman – has resulted in a fully-fledged war against trolling across the site that calls itself the ‘front page of the internet’.

Now after a period of silence, Huffman has emerged to post an apology for his admitted abuse of power, which revealed that engineers of the site have the ability to alter practically any post on the site, prompting fears of possible censorship.

“I honestly thought I might find some common ground with that community by meeting them on their level. It did not go as planned,” he said in his apology post.

One of the first steps taken to amend this oversight by Reddit, he said, was the scaling back of powers of engineers to no longer have complete access to editing of posts, as well as those in a position of power within the company.

Possible lifetime bans

However, Huffman went on to add that from now, a campaign will be waged against what he described as the site’s most “toxic users”, which will see agitators and trolls receive warnings or possible permanent bans.

This includes users of the Donald Trump subreddit that stoked this particular controversy, as Huffman claimed its moderators abused the workings of the site to put its content in a more prominent position than it deserved.

“More than anything, I want Reddit to heal, and I want our country to heal, and although many of you have asked us to ban the r/the_donald outright, it is with this spirit of healing that I have resisted doing so,” he said.

Not the first incident

Traditionally, Reddit users have had a troubled relationship with the site’s CEOs, particularly Huffman’s predecessor Ellen Pao, who resigned from the position last year following her dismissal of a member of the Reddit staff.

This led to dozens of moderators on the site ‘going dark’, as well as Pao receiving a torrent of abuse from users.

At the time, Reddit board member Sam Altman said of the reaction: “It was sickening to see some of the things Redditors wrote about Ellen.

“The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is internet between you.”

Donald Trump at a rally. Image: stock_photo_world/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic