Reddit is banning The_Donald. The message board community, that is.
The internet’s largest forum for anonymous conversation is overhauling its hate speech policy. In doing so, it is cleansing its site of any communities (known as sub-Reddits) that violate restrictions against hate speech and personal harassment.
Among the sub-Reddits that the site has eliminated is The_Donald, a pro-Trump message board. The_Donald hosted some 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos, and messages in support of the President. Reddit officials claim that the group has regularly broken community guidelines by allowing users to target and harass others with hate speech.
“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” says Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive. “The_Donald has been in violation of that.”
While The_Donald is one of about 2,000 sub-Reddits that the site will suspend, it is certainly the most influential. It has been a digital foundation for much of Trump’s online support base. For years, many of the most viral Trump memes that trickled down to Facebook, Twitter, and other mainstream social networks could be traced back to The_Donald.
In fact, one video, titled “The Trump Effect,” originated on the message board in 2016 before President Trump himself retweeted it to his 83 million followers.
Social Media Reckoning
Reddit’s decision to double-down its ban on hate speech comes as many other social platforms have made a similar choice. Many of the internet’s flagship social networks – Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – originally branded themselves as neutral sites that did not take responsibility for the content that their users posted. But public outcry has swiftly forced these platforms to reconsider their policies regarding the spread of hate speech, violence, or misinformation.
Twitter, the President’s favorite social app, has begun labeling some of Trump’s tweets to challenge their accuracy or to censor them for inciting violence. Snap has also announced it would no longer promote Trump’s Snapchat account after determining that his public comments could incite violence.
On Monday, YouTube announced it would ban six channels it says violates its site policy. Among them, the channels of prominent white supremacists David Duke and Richard Spencer, as well as American Renaissance, a white supremacist publication.
Facebook Holds Out
Then there’s the world’s largest social network, Facebook, which has not bent fully to demands to curb hate speech and misinformation. The company maintains it will not ban or remove any content by political leaders, even if it is hateful or untruthful. Such posts, Facebook says, are newsworthy unto themselves, and therefore are in the public’s interest to read.
Still, as the general election nears, many fear that misinformation about voting (which Trump himself has shared) could wreak havoc on the democratic process. Facebook has agreed to link any post that discusses the election to its own voter resource center.