At the behest of interim CEO Ellen Pao, Reddit administrators began deleting abusive or harassing threads as part of the site’s new anti-harassment policy and it’s not going over very well.
Site administrators announced Wednesday they would remove five subreddits, including one centered on body shaming, that were deemed harassing and didn’t mesh with the company’s new community rules.
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.
Reddit announced changes to its community policies and new anti-harassment stance in a May blog post.
The new anti-harassment policy prohibits personal attacks and harassing behavior, that is “systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone.” Reddit also set up email accounts where users can report abuse.
“In the past 10 years we’ve seen how these policies have fostered cool and amazing conversations on Reddit…We’ve [also] seen many conversations devolve into attacks against individuals,” Reddit administrators wrote in May.
Banning five subreddits this week was Reddit’s latest effort to better combat the site’s harassment problems. Reddit banned revenge porn and unauthorized nude photos earlier this year.
The changes also come after Pao lost her gender discrimination lawsuit against former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The lawsuit drew even more attention to Silicon Valley’s diversity problem, and a culture that prevents women and people of color from entering the tech industry or advancing.
Pao and administrators have emphasized the changes aren’t to quell speech or public discussion, but foster it by making sure people feel welcome on the site.
“While we do not always agree with the content and views expressed on the site, we do protect the right of people to express their views and encourage actual conversations according to the rules of reddit,” they wrote in Wednesday’s thread post.