Despite its corporate ownership, Reddit is often held up as an example of freedom of speech in action, with just as many bizarre subreddits as there are distasteful ones. It’s for that reason that redditors have been rioting over the past 48 hours, following the ban of one of its communities called FatPeopleHate. In response, users have been creating brand new communities related to the same topic, as well as attacking the site’s CEO, Ellen Pao, suggesting that banning the subreddit was akin to impeding their freedom of speech.
Much of their ire is related to the fact that many other objectively terrible subreddits also exist. There are many racist ones, those dealing with shocking images of dead people or miscarriages. It may be that r/fatpeoplehate was targeted for closure since its intentions were obvious (hate being in the name) and that it was large. At its peak, it had over 150,000 subscribers.
However it wasn’t the only group banned. Others included ones which preached transphobia and another that specifically targeted gamers and online streamers, though each of them had under 5,000 subscribers each.
Reddit’s response to the action of its riled up userbase was that the problem with the select groups was that they often targeted individuals. Making general sweeping racial statements or voicing an opinion of homosexuality was one thing, but if it strayed into attacking an individual, that’s when it would step in.
The difference it says, is between harassment and brigading. The latter is fine, because it’s general, but the former is targeted and that’s where the problem lies.
“We are continuing to add to our team to manage community issues, and we are making incremental changes over time,” the admins said in the announcement thread. “We want to make sure that the changes are working as intended and that we are incorporating your feedback when possible. Ultimately, we hope to have less involvement, but right now, we know we need to do better and to do more.”
This isn’t the first time that the community driven website has come under fire for banning subreddits. It previously made efforts to curb the posting and popularising of suggestive images of children, and banned several subreddits related to the celebrity nude photo leak that took place last year. It did make a lot of money off of them before doing so though.
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KitGuru Says: While I find it bizarre that anyone would be part of a group that just openly hated people for some arbitrary reason, I can understand why people are worried about the slippery slope of banning opinions. How do you guys feel about Reddit cracking down on these sorts of subreddits?