Reddit bans r/The_Donald as it updates its policies about hate speech

June 29, 2020, 7:31 PM UTC

Reddit has banned the r/The_Donald subreddit discussion forum as part of the message board company’s new content policies addressing hate speech.

The company said Monday in a blog post that it had banned the popular President Donald Trump–related subreddit, along with 2,000 other subreddits, for repeated violations of its newly implemented revamped content policy. The r/The_Donald community of Reddit users consistently hosted and upvoted more “rule-breaking content than average” and antagonized other Reddit communities as well as the company itself; plus its moderators “have refused to meet our most basic expectations,” the blog post said.

“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 said.

Additionally, the r/ChapoTrapHouse subreddit, associated with the political podcast Chapo Trap House, was also banned, because of similar content violations and its forum moderators showing “no intention of reining in their community,” Reddit said. 

Reddit noted that the “vast majority” of the 2,000 now-banned subreddits are inactive and 200 of those subreddits “have more than 10 daily users.”

For years, Reddit has come under fire for failing to address controversial postings that can veer into racist and misogynistic musings. Occasionally, Reddit has banned some subreddits for violating its content policies, such as in 2017 when it banned a subreddit affiliated with Incels—generally referring to men who blame women for their celibacy—for comments that urged violence against women, among other reasons.

Over the years, community members of the r/The_Donald subreddit have posted various conspiracy theories and content deemed racist, homophobic, antagonistic, and offensive.

It’s unclear why Reddit didn’t ban the r/The_Donald subreddit in the past, but Monday’s move is presumably the result of new content policies. Reddit said the policies state that “communities and users that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.” 

Reddit also said that its content policies “will never be perfect” and that it needs the help of its users to help monitor the site for hateful content. The company also said that it has “fallen short” in providing resources and support for Reddit users who have pitched in as content moderators.

In 2014, for instance, volunteer content moderators for the r/blackladies subreddit posted a public letter explaining their frustration with Reddit for failing to address the constant flood of racist and hateful posts that can infiltrate various subreddits. In June, a content moderator who helped write the 2014 letter told Bloomberg News that a pledge by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to address the grievances “never materialized.”

“We are committed to working with you to combat the bad actors, abusive behaviors, and toxic communities that undermine our mission and get in the way of the creativity, discussions, and communities that bring us all to Reddit in the first place,” the Reddit blog post said. “We hope that our progress towards this commitment, with today’s update and those to come, makes Reddit a place you enjoy and are proud to be a part of for many years to come.”

Story updated on June 29 at 7:40 ET to correct publishing date of public letter by content moderators.

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