Reddit Is Finally Taking Action Regarding The Site’s Massive Online Abuse Problem

Even as a comedian hoping to spread my content all over the internet, I have only posted on Reddit twice. I received some very fun comments like “Women just are not funny,” which was backed by another user who insisted that

“All he’s saying is the truth, all the best comedians are men. You get a few women with moments of brilliance (however this isn’t one of them, but I’ll let you little tumblerinas enjoy the circle jerk).”

Even though my time on Reddit was brief, I encountered many sexist commenters like these guys who probably use Fleshlights and don’t ever call their mom back.

A article published today from The Boston Globe suggests that Reddit is finally stepping up on their anti-harassment measures. The site was launched back in 2005, so its about damn time. According to the article,

“The company said it would give people a blocking feature to shield themselves against harassment on the site, moving to prohibit abusive users from sending messages to others. The blocking feature will build on the concept that the less exposed to negative speech users are on Reddit, the more they will want to engage with the community.”

That sounds well and good, but you only block people after a comment has initially been made. This seems like a “too little, too late” policy since the damage has already been done to some extent. I’m not the only one who’s skeptical.

“Others have less faith in Reddit’s ability to clamp down on the Internet’s noxious elements, especially given the amount of time it took the company to take on abuse in the first place. Reddit has long been home to racist, misogynistic subcultures in areas called subreddits — small, topic-based forums where users can discuss whatever they wish. In autumn 2014, Reddit users traded stolen nude photos of celebrities like baseball cards, all organized in a subreddit.”

Okay, so what will this blocking tool do exactly?

“The idea for the blocking tool is similar to a “muting” function used by Twitter, the 320 million-user social network that also faces criticism for the way it handles online abuse. When you block a user on Reddit, you will no longer see that person’s responses to your posts. That person will not know about the block, a strategy aimed at keeping them from simply creating another user account.”

It’s a step in the right direction I suppose, but online bullying is not going to disappear when this block option is introduced.

I often think back on Louis CK’s interview on Conan from 2013, where he addresses online bullying. He reasons that when you look at somebody and say “you’re fat” you see the physical response it has on person and feel empathy. This doesn’t happen online. When bullies type “you’re fat” then they just go” Mmmm, that was fun, I like that.”