As of approximately one hour ago, Reddit has begun a wave of new community bans, reminiscent of the culling during interim CEO Ellen Pao’s reign in 2015 that saw a handful of hate-based groups removed from the site. This time, Reddit’s leadership is taking aim at content and groups that incite violence, and the first groups to fall are Nazi and Nazi-sympathizing subreddits.
The policy change announced on r/modnews (and not r/announcements, for reasons unknown) notes that previous site definitions for “inciting violence” were deemed not to be “comprehensive,” and have been amended. As site admin landoflobsters wrote:
[W]e found that the policy regarding “inciting” violence was too vague, and so we have made an effort to adjust it to be more clear and comprehensive. Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise, we will also take action against content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals. This applies to ALL content on Reddit, including memes, CSS/community styling, flair, subreddit names, and usernames.
Bad news for puerile idiots or propagandizing fascists—great news for basically everyone else.
So far, at least seven communities have been kicked off of Reddit, including r/Nazi, r/EuropeanNationalism, and r/pol (an extension of the 4chan board of the same name.) Of these, the largest had under 7,000 subscribers and the smallest had just 25. One was previously “quarantined”—a state where communities with content deemed to be “extremely offensive or upsetting to the average redditor” are only available to logged-in users who know where to look.
Of course, speculation abounds among users as to whether or not this tweak in the site rules will be used to justify banning r/the_donald, the race-baiting, mod-threatening, and ostensibly Trump-centered community which has at various points declared “war” on the rest of Reddit.
We’ve reached out to Reddit for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update 10/26/17 12:40pm ET: The community is working to keep track of which communities have been banned, but given how small many are, it’s unlikely we’ll ever get a full list of removed content. Still, the currently accepted total for banned subreddits is 18, and in addition to violent or fascistic communities, Reddit appears to have also taken an interest in removing beastiality content. So long r/SexWithHorses, we hardly knew ye.
Update 11/8/17 8:36am ET: Reddit’s moderation staff took the liberty of adding r/incels to their list of banned communities yesterday evening. For those fortunate enough not to know, “involuntary celibates” are a particular subset of people (almost entirely male) who blame externalities (almost always women) for their inability to have sex. In short: angry virgins.
It does not appear any one thread triggered the ban, but caches of the community from last night show r/incels briefly displayed the following message—The moderators of this subreddit have set it to private. You must be a moderator or approved submitter to visit—which suggests the subreddit moderators may have attempted to evade the ban. An attempt at a replacement—r/incelpurgatory—was also met with swift removal.
With 42,000 subscribers, r/incels is the largest group removed from Reddit during this wave of bans to date.
Update 11/8/17 4:09pm ET: Within the past two hours, another two communities have been banned: r/opiatefriendly and r/steroidsourcetalk. While there don’t appear to be any caches versions of the former, the latter had around 20,000 subscribers.