By David Futrelle
Is Reddit finally learning how to ban correctly?
On Monday, Reddit site admins banned the MillionDollarExtreme subreddit, ostensibly for hosting “violent content,” though this was merely one small part of what made the subreddit, a forum devoted to the alt-right’s favorite alt-comedy group, the foul and eminently bannable cesspool that it was.
Then earlier today Reddit took down the much larger and more influential GreatAwakening subreddit, the internet’s main hangout for QAnon conspiracy theorists too old or addled to figure out how to use 8chan, for harassment and violent threats, many of them directed at Hillary Clinton.
When the users of these banned subreddits scurried to hastily constructed replacement subreddits designed to circumvent the bans, Reddit shut these down as well.
[UPDATE: On Thursday night, Reddit also closed the nasty SJWhate subreddit.]
These new bans — in particular the bans of the replacement subreddits — have some wondering if Reddit is finally beginning to take hate speech — and the often violent harassment it encourages — with something approaching seriousness.
As The Verge puts it,
While previous Reddit bans have come about mostly as a result of external pressure, these are the first higher-profile bans directly tied to Reddit’s new, more explicit content policy, which was rolled out in October 2017. After years of inconsistency from the company’s leadership, the site’s handling of this set of bans suggests a more codified strategy being implemented across the board for policing toxic users.
In the past, The Verge notes, bans of such noxious subreddits as r/Jailbait and r/PicsofDeadKids were
more or less … one-off response[s] to lengthy campaigns from users, media, and the general public. … As Reddit has grown more popular, it’s become increasingly obvious that the norms and implied protections the site has offered are inadequate. Despite CEO Steve Huffman’s continued waffling in his resolve to ban Reddit’s worst actors, a change seems to be afoot.
It’s not completely clear what, specifically, triggered these latest bans. A new and still relatively small subreddit called TheBanout2018, devoted to banning as many of the worst subreddits as possible, is claiming at least some of the credit. But Reddit hasn’t been terribly receptive to similar campaigns in the past — not without massive media attention — and so it’s hard to tell if this latest one has actually played a significant role in bringing about the bans.
Regardless, some of the worst Redditors out there are freaking out, worrying that their favorite Reddit hangouts — from TheRedPill to r/MGTOW to The_Donald — will be next.
In TheRedPill, mods are urging subscribers to bookmark their off-Reddit alternative site TRP.RED, while Terpers themselves are talking as if they are fighting to protect the last dying embers of Western Civ.
In r/MGTOW, the regulars can’t seem to decide whom to blame, with prospective villains ranging from the Deep State to, er, Serena Williams? (Don’t ask me to explain that one.) Some are convinced it’s part of a devious plot to sway the upcoming elections.
Whatever the motive, the bans have left noted MGTOW philosopher BitchesBHating worried that we are entering dark times indeed.
Reddit’s Bannables agree on one thing: they’re so opposed to all this evil banning that they want TheBanout2018 banned at once. Indeed, they’ve started up their own subreddit, BanBanouts, to push their anti-banning ban. As the subreddit’s mods explain in their sub’s sidebar:
This might be a lot funnier were it not for the fact that the banned subreddits were — and the others possibly on the chopping block still are — energetic encouragers and exporters of the rankest hatreds, and that the worst of these subreddits have caused real damage to decent people by encouraging and enabling online and real-world harassment and violent threats. So, yeah, I’m not going to apologize for wanting this shit banned.
Let’s hope that Reddit is indeed taking a new and stricter stance towards the hatred and harassment that their platform has enabled over the years — and that the bannings of the GreatAwakening and MillionDollarExtreme subreddits and their various attempted replacements are merely the start of a much wider, and long overdue, crackdown.
I’m not sure I buy it, but we’ll see.
PS: Hey, did I mention that Amazon banned a bunch of books by Roosh? Well, it did.