Reddit will remove a controversial forum from its social media network composed of thousands of US President Donald Trump supporters after reviewing its hate speech content management policies.
The decision comes as other social media sites, including Google’s YouTube and Amazon’s Twitch, have taken drastic action to counter harmful content as more businesses enter an ad boycott.
Reddit, which has long established itself as a bastion of free speech, announced that it will shut down the r/The Donald forum for repeated breaches of its rules, alongside 2,000 other forums such as r/ChapoTrapHouse, which is associated with a left-wing podcast. There were more than 729,000 subscribers to the Pro-Trump website.
“All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity,” Reddit said in a statement.
Reddit added that the r/The_Donald has repeatedly violated its guidelines, antagonized other groups, and the moderators also failed to follow the “most basic expectations” of the social media platform. The company has said that it has issued alerts to the group and changed its moderators. This “quarantined” forum in 2019 means that users entering the subreddit will see an alert message before accessing this, and notes from the site will not appear in the thread.
The decision to ban the forum comes as social media sites take stronger positions against offensive material shared by President Trump’s supporters. Twitter has also flagged some of Trump’s tweets, Snapchat said it would no longer endorse Trump’s account on its website, and Twitch said it would suspend a Trump campaign account Monday.
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Reddit conducted a comprehensive overhaul of its content management policies to ban communities and users that promote identity-based or vulnerability-based hatred, following the criticism that it harbors racism, particularly by promoting alt-right fringe groups. At the time Ellen Pao, the former chief executive of Reddit, said on Twitter that the organization “nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hates the entire day.”
Since George Floyd’s killing ignited antiracism demonstrations across the US last month, social media organizations have been faced with increased pressure to control their content better and deter hate groups from stirring up racial tensions.
Facebook ad boycott, which has been extended by several advertisers to include other social media platforms, continues to gain momentum this week. Adidas and its subsidiary Reebok have announced that they are pausing on the platform advertising plus their Instagram photo app until the end of July “to ensure lasting change in the fight against racism.”
In the US last month, Microsoft had already removed ads from Facebook and Instagram, and intended to extend it globally. According to Axios, which first published the story, the software and tech company is worried about its advertising being put next to “inappropriate content” rather than Facebook’s policies.
YouTube said it suspended six accounts for breaching its policy on hate speech, including channels belonging to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, high-profile white nationalist Stefan Molyneux, and American Renaissance white supremacist paper.
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Previously, Reddit had made attempts to clean up the site to get significant advertisers on board. It opted last year to “quarantine,” or add warning labels to, the Trump forum after users advocated violence against Oregon police officers.