Social media website Reddit Inc., the seventh most visited website in the United States which hosts online community message boards, will proactively start enforcing its content policy banning or suspending the “most toxic users” who harass other Reddit members.
Reddit says it has identified hundreds of online posters and will begin issuing warnings or suspensions starting with those who have sent abusive messages to Steve Huffman, its very own Chief Executive.
The site’s moderators will comb through Huffman’s inbox, review user reports and vow to increase filtering capacities to take a more proactive role in monitoring speech. The web site also plans to increase the number of its employees, rather than originally relying on community moderators.
The website is known for its promotion of free speech, but the decision to remove some of Reddit’s more aggressive voices follows commitments made by other social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter , to adjust their policies in the wake of the bitter, and polarising, 2016 presidential election in which these websites played a significant role in “circulating sometimes false claims”:http://www.usnews.com/news/at-the-edge/articles/2016-11-28/twitter-bots-from-the-us-state-of-georgia-posted-thousands-of-messages-before-the-election and fake news.
In a blog post published on the site, Huffman first apologised to the Reddit community for “compromising the trust” users felt in the site. But he admitted the decision to improve the site’s filtering of comments was predicated on rising tensions within Reddit itself.
Reddit last week banned a separate channel, called Pizzagate, whose members supported a conspiracy theory that Clinton had ties to a paedophile network at a Washington D.C. pizza parlour.
And it appears a channel supporting President-elect Donald Trump featured some racist and misogynistic views, as well as fake news and conspiracy theories, also targeting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“The United States is more divided than ever, and we see that tension within Reddit itself,” wrote Huffman. “The community that was formed in support of President-elect Donald Trump organized and grew rapidly, but within it were users that devoted themselves to antagonising the broader Reddit community.”
Some posters in the r/The_Donald community also directed attacks and abuse at Huffman himself. Huffman has been heavily criticised for using his administrative powers on the site to edit and deflect abusive comments directed at him onto Reddit’s community moderators.
Huffman said he did so as a prank. His way of trolling the trolls something he admitted was not a good idea in hindsight.
The move has caused outrage among Reddit users who are now demanding Huffman resign .
Speaking to digital media news web site Mashable, UnimatrixZeroOne, a Reddit moderator said Huffman no longer upholds the governing principles of Reddit.
“I believe I speak for all when I say that [Huffman] no longer represents reddit and its interests, especially not its community,” he said. “[Huffman], I am asking you to do right by the website/company you helped co-found, do right by the investors, and do right by the community. Resign as CEO of Reddit.”
Huffman says his decision to start banning or suspending commenters is not politically motivated and he says he’s resisted calls to ban the r/The_Donald channel in the hope he can rebuild trust in, and start healing, the web site.
“More than anything, I want Reddit to heal, and I want our country to heal, and although many of you have asked us to ban the r/the_donald outright, it is with this spirit of healing that I have resisted doing so,” Huffman wrote. “If there is anything about this election that we have learned, it is that there are communities that feel alienated and just want to be heard, and Reddit has always been a place where those voices can be heard.”
Reddit is a collection of online forums that allow users to post links, videos and text on message boards to a wide community of users.
They are usually subcategorised to specific topics called subreddits. Users can vote on posted content, the idea being the most popular will be more prominently featured on the site and can attract audiences that number in the millions.
Reddit has 250 million monthly visitors.
In comments posted in response to Reddit’s announcement, some r/The_Donald members expressed their support for Huffman, but others have already planned to move the community to Twitter if the subreddit gets banned.