It took the 49 deaths captured on video in the New Zealand mosque shooting for Reddit to ban two of its most gruesome subreddits, where people routinely shared videos and images that showed people dying.
The subreddits r/watchpeople die and r/gore were removed on Friday, after people shared copies of a video that had been broadcast by the alleged shooter, as he opened fire on worshippers in two New Zealand mosques on Friday. The Reddit groups shared photos and videos of people in their final moments before death, including a video showing beheadings in Morocco last year.
A message on both subreddits said they were banned for violating Reddit’s content policies, “specifically our policy against glorifying or encouraging violence.”
Reddit has long had an “anything goes” reputation, letting people post whatever they want under the pretense of free speech. In 2017, Reddit changed its content policy to prohibit any posts that encourage, glorify, or incite violence, however that policy is open to interpretation.
In a move to shield users from “accidentally viewing content that many be offensive or upsetting,” Reddit quarantined the r/watchpeopledie, and r/gore subreddits, along with more than one dozen others, last September, and required users to opt-in to them, before viewing the gruesome content.
Reddit just issued subreddits "Watch People Die" and "Gore" a flagrant foul and an ejection. About time.
— ✪𝓙𝓪𝓶𝓮𝓼 𝓢𝓪𝓲𝓷𝓽-𝓕𝓻𝓪𝓷𝓬✪ (@sirjamesa12) March 15, 2019
The video of the New Zealand massacre has prompted renewed calls for social media platforms to do a better, and quicker, job when it comes to ridding their platforms of gruesome, extremist content. Reddit wasn’t the only platform that struggled to stop broadcasting the video recorded by the New Zealand gunman. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter also scrambled to remove copies of it in the hours after the attack.