Reddit has banned r/The_Donald, a subreddit dedicated to the president, in its reworked hate speech policies.
The subreddit is known for its devotion to Donald Trump and has allowed subscribers to target and harass others who disagreed with them. Last year, The_Donald was quarantined by Reddit for “repeated rule breaking behavior,” including inciting violence. Quarantining the subreddit meant that users had to explicitly opt-in to view it — it wasn’t quite a ban.
But the New York Times reports that Reddit executives said the community has been “highly influential” in stoking Trump’s supporters, who have used hate speech against other Reddit users who disagreed with them.
“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman told the New York Times. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”
About 2,000 other communities were also banned in the overhaul, including those on the other end of the political spectrum. The left-leaning subreddit r/ChapoTrapHouse, devoted to the podcast of the same name, was also banned. In a community-wide announcement, Huffman wrote that the subreddit “consistently host[s] rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.”
The new policy comes after multiple subreddits went temporarily dark in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and in protest of the platform’s allowance of racist content.
“I have to admit that I’ve struggled with balancing my values as an American, and around free speech and free expression, with my values and the company’s values around common human decency,” Huffman told the Verge.
The 2,000 banned subreddits also include ones that are considered inactive — only about 200 had more than 10 active daily users, the Verge reports. While the ban is historic for the company, Huffman assured reporters that Reddit would continue to support free speech.
“Political speech continues to be safe,” Huffman added. “But all communities, including our political communities, have to abide by our policies. And while we will do everything we can to help bring them in line, if they fail in doing so they are not allowed on Reddit.”
Critics think the sweep is too late. Earlier this month, former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao tweeted at Huffman, “You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian also chimed in. He resigned from the Reddit board earlier this month to allow a Black board member to take his place.
It’s worth noting that many controversial subreddits still stand, including one praising the St. Louis couple who threatened Black Lives Matter protestors with guns over the weekend.
“Our policies will never be perfect, with new edge cases that inevitably lead us to evolve them in the future…But just as our content moderation cannot scale effectively without your support, you need more support from us as well, and we admit we have fallen short towards this end,” Huffman concluded in the announcement to the site. “We hope that our progress towards this commitment, with today’s update and those to come, makes Reddit a place you enjoy and are proud to be a part of for many years to come.”