As part of a new anti-harassment policy at Reddit, several subreddits known to harass people have been shut down, including r/fatpeoplehate (sadly, one of the fastest growing subreddits in recent history, with 151,000 subscribers).
Today we are announcing a change in community management on reddit. Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform. We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment.
It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Today we are removing five subreddits that break our reddit rules based on their harassment of individuals. If a subreddit has been banned for harassment, you will see that in the ban notice. The only banned subreddit with more than 5,000 subscribers is r/fatpeoplehate.
The other subreddits that have been banned are r/hamplanethatred, r/transfags, r/neofag and r/shitn[words]say. Although certainly they are all disturbing sounding, the admins who banned the subreddits say they did so because the groups were “brigading” and harassing other users on the site–which is why several other equally controversial subreddits were not banned.
I think that’s fair. It’s their site and they get to set the rules–as long as it isn’t anything questionably legal, like the former “creepshots” subreddit where users submitted disturbing upskirt-type pictures of women who didn’t consent to having said “creepshots” taken, or definitely illegal like several of the former subreddits devoted to child porn.
I may be personally disgusted, disturbed and, quite honestly, confused by a forum devoted to hating fat people, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it existing if they weren’t harassing anyone. There are terrible people out there with terrible opinions, and it’s entirely likely that those people will find each other and talk. Not much I can do about that, except avoid it. Which I do. The only subreddit I really read super regularly is r/AskHistorians, which, by the way, is amazing.
As much as Reddit gets shit for being an “internet cesspool,” there are some absolute gems in there, and I hope that this shift towards ending harassment on the site will make those great parts of it stand out more. Maybe more people will participate in those great parts if they’re not intimidated by the “cesspool” reputation, and feel they’ll be protected if harassed or brigaded.
If they want to create a better environment for their users, then good on them. And remember–the First Amendment only means that the government can’t arrest you for voicing your opinion, not that anyone has to provide a forum for it.[Reddit] [h/t The Verge]
Original by Robyn Pennacchia @robynelyse