Reddit Finally Bans White Supremacist Subreddits – But Not For Content
Last night, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced in a post about content policy that the site’s worst white supremacist communities would be banned. Among those banned are “CoonTown,” “WatchNiggersDie,” “bestofcoontown,” “koontown,” “CoonTownMods,” and “CoonTownMeta.”
Huffman mentioned that these subreddits weren’t banned for their racist content. He explained:
“We are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations. […] The fact of the matter is we spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with a handful of communities, which prevents us from working on things for the other 99.98% (literally) of Reddit.”
He also explained that other communities on Reddit would be “quarantined,” meaning that users would have to explicitly opt into the subreddit in order to see its content. Quarantines would apply to those subreddits “whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.”
Reddit’s content policy states that content is unwelcome if it “encourages or incites violence,” or if it “threatens, harasses, or bullies or encourages others to do so.” After Reddit banned other hate- and harassment-based subreddits last month, critics wondered how it was that these white supremacist subreddits hadn’t been banned based on content. “CoonTown” was so large, and so violent in its content, that the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report on the subreddit, detailing the implicit ways in which it had encouraged racist violence.
The line Reddit is walking between defending free speech and defending hate speech seems awfully thin – but, at least, taking these subreddits down and barring attempts to re-establish them offers a measure of protection for Reddit users of color.
[h/t The Guardian]