Reddit, the self-titled “front page of the internet,” recently instituted a new anti-harassment policy that aims to curb trolling and other behaviors that go beyond internet discussions and inflict real-world pain on people. In an act showing they mean business, the social site has banned five communities, known as subreddits, for violating rules “based on their harassment of individuals.” Reddit says they are “banning behavior, not ideas,” in that subreddits will be banned if they use the website “as a platform to harass individuals.”
In a blog post, Reddit’s admins say only one of the five subreddits had over 5,000 subscribers, with the others only ranging from 149 to 3,071. However, that prominent community, “fatpeoplehate,” was last indexed with over 150,000 subscribers. The other four subreddits were typical internet garbage, with focuses on racism and homophobia.
Commenters in favor of the clean-up have pointed that a number of larger, more offensive communities are still operating, but Reddit says while they may not agree with the content or ideas of a subreddit, it is the act of harassing individuals that brings about a ban.
For some now the website has enforced rules about banned content, such as explicit material featuring children or last year’s community that focused on distributing private celebrity photos. But this new action could be an attempt by Reddit to shed its association as a home for trolls and the worst the internet has to offer.
A recent transparency report revealed that a survey of 15,000 users came back with them not wanting to expose friends “hate and offensive content” as the top reason for not recommending Reddit. It seems Reddit is now a bit more interested in defining and limiting what is offensive, rather than relying on individual communities’ moderators to take action.