6 racist Reddit communities banned for ‘existing solely to annoy’

6 Aug 2015

Six racist Reddit communities have lost their member privileges for the website as part of a major crackdown by management, which says the groups exist “solely to annoy”.

The six racist Reddit communities that have been banned all follow a similar theme in their extreme racist attitudes to black people, with Reddit taking the decision to remove them as part of its latest update to its content policy guidelines.

In a message posted by Reddit’s new CEO Steve Huffman on the site, the subreddits that have now been banned had previously escaped the firing line due to Reddit’s claims that they were not breaking the rules, despite spewing hatred.

“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 wrote.

“Our most important policy over the last 10 years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations. I believe these policies strike the right balance.”

The other major change to come as part of the content policy update is that if a community is deemed to be causing offence then it will be ‘quarantined’.

This method will apply “a set of restrictions to a community so its content will only be viewable to those who explicitly opt in”, Huffman explained.

“We will quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.”

Reddit outrage

Unsurprisingly, Reddit users have not responded particularly well to change, especially when it comes to banning or changing content policy, with the recent ousting of Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao one example of how the community does not react well to change.

One user, in reply to Huffman, listed dozens of racist and misogynistic subreddits that appear to have received a pass from Reddit’s moderators.

“[Racist subreddit] is still there,” the post said. “No ads for them, as they have been whitelisted by Reddit staff for ad-free status, less trolls because you have to be email verified, and no spam bots because you have to opt in. You actually made life better for them. Guess I’m not shocked at all.”

However, in response to the accusations, Huffman issued an update to the post, saying: “I know some of you are upset because we banned anything today, but the fact of the matter is we spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with a handful of communities, which prevents us from working on things for the other 99.98pc (literally) of Reddit. I’m off for now, thanks for your feedback. RIP my inbox.”

Reddit stickers image via Eva Blue/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic