Reddit bans Donald Trump fan page and thousands of other communities
Reddit has banned an online message board dedicated to supporting Donald Trump, and thousands of other online communities, in sweeping new measures designed to combat hate speech.
The company said in a statement that it banned ‘The_Donald’, a community with nearly 800,000 users, due to repeated rule-breaking.
The ban came as the popular social media site announced new rules aimed at removing hate speech from its community message boards, or “subreddits”.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“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.”
Reddit’s move comes amid increased scrutiny of social media sites’ moderation of hate speech on their platforms in the wake of mass protests calling for racial justice.
Facebook is currently facing a backlash from advertisers over its perceived lax approach to the issue. Twitter, meanwhile, has in recent weeks attracted the ire of the president for adding warnings to tweets from Mr Trump that violated its policies on misinformation and promotion of violence.
Also on Monday, the live streaming platform Twitch suspended an account associated with the Trump campaign for “comments made on stream.”
“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,” said Brielle Villablanca, a Twitch spokesperson, in a statement to CNN. The offending content included a 2016 campaign video in which Mr Trump called Mexicans rapists and criminals.
Reddit, which describes itself as “the front page of the internet”, allows users to set up community pages and vote their favourite content to the top of those pages. The message boards are moderated by volunteers from the community.
The_Donald was among the most popular pages dedicated to supporting Donald Trump. Mr Trump took part in a question and answer session when he was a presidential candidate in 2016. But the page has in recent years become a hub for white nationalist and racist content.
In a 2018 report on the subreddit, the Southern Poverty Law Center said that The_Donald acted as “a bridge between fringe online communities and the wider internet”.
“And in addition to finding a bigger audience among The_Donald’s more than half a million subscribers, white nationalist ideas gain a measure of legitimacy when they are promoted on a subreddit that once hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the president himself,” the SPLC said.
Reddit said Monday that it had banned around 2,000 subreddits alongside its policy change, adding “the majority of which are inactive.”
Among the new rules announced by Reddit was one that “explicitly states that communities and users that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.”
The statement added: “To be clear, views across the political spectrum are allowed on Reddit but all communities must work within our policies and do so in good faith, without exception.”
Also on the list of banned subreddits was one dedicated to Chapo Trap House, an ostensibly left-wing podcast. Reddit said the community was banned for similar reasons as ‘The_Donald’: “They consistently host rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.”