As part of a new anti-harassment policy introduced by interim CEO Ellen Pao (yup, the same Ellen Pao appealing her Kleiner Perkins case), Reddit on Wednesday announced it would remove harassing subreddits. Reddit was notoriously known for its hands-off methodology when it came to its forums and smaller niche communities. But as part of the announcement, five subreddits were banned with promises of more to come should they violate the new rules.
The one banned subreddit named in Reddit's post was r/fatpeoplehate, which let users post hateful things about overweight people. According to Reddit, this was the only subreddit that had more than 5,000 subscribers... well, it'd more accurate to say the subreddit had more than 150,000 subscribers at the time it was removed, according to redditmetrics.com. Comments below showed the other four banned subreddits were r/hamplanethatred, r/transf*g, r/neof*g, and r/shitn*ggerssay. (Yeah, you can imagine what kind of horrible things went on in those message boards.)
This is the first visible move Reddit has done to enforce its anti-harassment policy announced last month. In a post, Reddit said it didn't want to get involved in managing online conversations but would step in to "protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment."
It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Of course, some Redditors were up-in-arms about the decision, launching a bunch of threads attacking Pao. Others criticized the move as ineffective. Newtothelyte wrote:
Silly admins. Don't you understand your userbase?
You really think you're going to stop those people from having their sub? Now you've turned them against you and you've pissed them off. Now they will stop at nothing to have their message heard. There are now over 10 subs dedicated to fat people hate.
One, in typical Reddit fashion, took the humorous route by trying to get rid of rival sports teams. Pm_me_your_microwave said:
As a Jets fan, I want /r/Patriots banned for harassing and assaulting my team 2 times a season for the last 10+ fucking years.
But thankfully, there were enough voices to applaud the move, with some listing other subreddits that clearly needed to banned. I made the mistake of clicking one to see if it really was real (I won't say which). I regret it.
Other sites like Facebook and Twitter are also stepping up to monitor its users' behavior, rolling out new privacy policies aimed at eliminating online bullying. Also announced on Wednesday was Twitter's newest feature that allowed users to block multiple people as well as publicly share their block lists so others can take note of harassing accounts.
While I'm all about free speech, Reddit is a company that has the right to do what it wants with its online communities. And to be honest, I won't miss some of the dark stuff that lurks in the nether regions of the site. For those Redditors crying about it, tough love.