Reddit on Monday announced the ban of the subreddit titled “r/The_Donald,” which had more than 790,000 subscribers. According to Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, the subreddit was banned after a continuous failure to “meet our most basic expectations.”
“Reddit’s mission is to bring community and belonging to everybody in the world, and there is speech in the world and on Reddit that prevents other people from doing so,” Huffman told The Verge in an interview. “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.”
According to Huffman, the ban expands across more than 2,000 different subreddits after implementation of a new policy with hopes for “closing the gap between our values and our policies to explicitly address hate.”
“Political speech continues to be safe,” Huffman said. “But all communities, including our political communities, have to abide by our policies. And while we will do everything we can to help bring them in line, if they fail in doing so they are not allowed on Reddit.”
The bans come after the company succumbed to pressure to crack down on hate speech in different forums. Former CEO Ellen Pao said she believes the move was long overdue.
“You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence,” Pao tweeted. “So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”
I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long https://t.co/VN5XCiYp5g
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) June 2, 2020
This isn’t the first time the r/The_Donald subreddit came under fire. Just last year, Reddit “quarantined” r/The_Donald by “severely restricting its visibility and functionality.”
Other notable groups included in the ban were the popular left-wing subreddit r/ChapoTrapHouse, which has more than 160,000 users, and r/GenderCritical, which has more than 27,000 daily users, for lack of control by the group’s moderators and violations of Reddit’s new policy.
On 29th June, @reddit banned the radical feminist subreddit r/GenderCritical, Reddit’s most active feminist community, which had nearly 65,000 subscribers and more than 27,000 daily users, as part of their campaign to rebrand themselves as being against “hate.” #RedditHatesWomen
— GenderCritical (@rGenderCritical) June 29, 2020
The new policy’s first rule states:
Remember the human. Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. 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.
Huffman said the new policy was not easy to create and caused him to contemplate the meaning of freedom of speech.
“I have to admit that I’ve struggled with balancing my values as an American, and around free speech and free expression, with my values and the company’s values around common human decency,” Huffman said.
Jordan Davidson is an intern for The Federalist and a recent graduate of Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.