Reddit is embarking on a new mission to rid itself of the nastiest communities, users, and even memes. The social media site is banning any group or individual inciting violence, and the brunt of the communities taking the initial hit are those populated by self-confessed racists.
Reddit was once the Wild West of the web. There was an anything goes mentality , with an attitude of “If you don’t like it, don’t read it”. However, Reddit has since cleaned up its act, which hasn’t gone down well with everyone. And management has decided it’s time for another crackdown.
Violence Is Never the Answer
As formally announced on /r/modnews, Reddit has decided to “take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people,” as well as “content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals”.
This isn’t just aimed at purging Reddit of certain communities whose values don’t align with the site either. Because, as Reddit admin ‘landoflobsters’ makes clear, “this applies to ALL content on Reddit, including memes, CSS/community styling, flair, subreddit names, and usernames.”
This is going to be a major undertaking. While subreddits whose sole purpose it is to incite violence are easy to identify, individual users, posts, and memes will be a lot harder to weed out. Not only will the moderators of every subreddit have to keep a watch, so will ordinary users.
Reddit knows this will cause controversy, concluding, “We understand that enforcing this policy may often require subjective judgment, so all of the usual caveats apply with regard to content that is newsworthy, artistic, educational, satirical, etc, as mentioned in the policy. Context is key.”
Context IS key. As is the need to dish out bannings evenly without being swayed by political leanings. The communities shut down so far are mostly those providing a safe space for Nazis. But any community that condones violence as a means to an end should have the same rules applied.
This Will Prove Controversial
Ridding Reddit of groups inciting violence really shouldn’t be controversial. But knowing Reddit, and having seen the previous attempts to clean house descend into chaos, I suspect this will also cause problems. However, Reddit will then emerge from the ashes, hopefully better than before.
Do you regularly visit Reddit? What subreddits do you frequent? Have you ever wandered into a hate-filled community? Have you ever seen users or posts directly inciting violence? Do you think Reddit is right to crack down on these things? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Eva Blue via Flickr