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Reddit to White Supremacists and other bigots: We’ll host your forums — at our expense!

DailyMotion has helpfully labeled some of Snake Island's most notable features
Much better policy; Send Reddit’s bigots to Snake Island

So the new Reddit CEO — returning co-founder Steve “Spez” Huffman — announced the site’s much-anticipated new content guidelines today, and to say that they are disappointing is a bit of an understatement.

Essentially, he told the site’s many varieties of bigots that they could continue to spout their various bigotries on Reddit without repercussions, so long as they didn’t actually threaten to, you know, go out and murder or otherwise physically harm people whose sexual preferences or skin color or religion (or whatever) didn’t meet their approval.

Only now the bigots will be posting on Reddit s dime.

No, really.

Reddit’s new policy on hate speech is to make hateful content “opt-in,” like the site’s NSFW subreddits are now. Oh, and to not embarrass the site’s advertisers by running ads next to blatantly hateful garbage.

As Huffman explained in a posting on Reddit, under the new policy

it’s ok to say “I don’t like this group of people.” It’s not ok to say, “I’m going to kill this group of people.”

Hateful content — or, as Reddit euphemistically puts it, “content that violates a common sense of decency” — will be “reclassified” but not banned. The “indecent” stuff

will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.

What this means in practical terms, Huffman explained in a followup comment, is that

r/rapingwomen will be banned. They are encouraging people to rape.

r/coontown will be reclassified. The content there is offensive to many, but does not violate our current rules for banning.

So, yeah, Reddit’s grand plan to deal with its bigots is to … subsidize them.

I can’t even.

Adding to the repugnance of this “hide the hate, but keep hosting it” policy is the fact that, in the wake of the #RedditRevolt against now ex-CEO Ellen Pao, and Dylan Roof’s racist murders in Charlestown, South Carolina, /coontown and other blatantly racist subreddits have seen a giant boost in traffic, with more than 18,000 subscribers and roughly 200,000 page views a day.

As MrTomFTW noted in a posting on r/GamerGhazi, r/coontown is

closing in to matching Stormfront’s traffic. This means that Reddit could soon be host to the largest active white supremacist forum on the Internet.

Actually, that’s understating things a little. If you add Reddit’s other racist subreddits into the mix, Reddit is already the number one destination for white supremacists looking for a place to talk online.

And Reddit will keep footing the bill.

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yutolia
yutolia
7 years ago

Maybe I’m weird (actually, that’s definitely), but I like snakes. Reddit bigots, YOU LEAVE THOSE POOR SNAKES ALONE!!!

I’m still onboard with Clipperton Island. Maybe we can even get Christo to build a gigantic pink fence.

sylviaplant
sylviaplant
7 years ago

@Kirbywarp: It’s a cowardly, lazy, and selfish decision.

It’s cowardly because they are trying to avoid a hissy fit from the racists.

It’s lazy because they don’t want to set a precedent for actual active moderation and upkeep of their website.

It’s selfish because they still hope to gain traffic from the scum of the internet.

raysa
raysa
7 years ago

Just a note to say that Dylan roof committed his heinous crime in Charleston, SC.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
7 years ago

@yutolia

I’m sure there’s room at the bottom of the Mariana Trench for everyone on reddit.

deniseeliza
deniseeliza
7 years ago

So does this mean that the hate boards are also going to be ad-free? You know, the perk that people usually pay Reddit for?

Miss Andry
7 years ago

Well I guess that spells the end for the Philosophy of Rape subreddit. I’ll take the small victories where I can find them at this point.

Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
7 years ago

@deniseeliza

Yes. Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

greydawnbreaking
greydawnbreaking
7 years ago

I wonder how long, from a purely financial perspective, this “compromise” will remain workable in the eyes of the Reddit powers that be.

If people start leaving the safe-for-work parts of Reddit due to the unchecked expansion of hate sites and an increasingly toxic reputation, ad revenue is going to go down but the subsidized areas will continue to grow.

It’s unlikely that these guys will end up banning hate groups simply because they can’t gain revenue from them. More likely, they’ll just start trying to place ads next to them, if they can find companies who won’t object to it–or just not tell the companies at all and try to brazen it out in the media and the courts if they get caught.

leftwingfox
7 years ago

So, not being on reddit, What does this mean for monitoring such sites? Will watchdogs like you and /bluepill be able to see inside the sewers without subscribing, or will subreddit mods be able to ban viewers for exposing their shit?

Because this strikes me as a “worst of both worlds” ass-covering maneuver with the potential to make monitoring these pits for extremists even harder.

Alice Sanguinaria
7 years ago

leftwingfox, I’d imagine that it’d be near impossible to get archives of webpages that are “locked”, since you have to be logged in (and opt-in) to view those pages. Hence, sites like archive.is are out.

Khane's Mom
Khane's Mom
7 years ago

My theory on this, for what’s it worth…the scum that are active in the gross “opt-in” subs also go to the ones with ads. If they get rid of the disgusting subs, they may lose those people completely. By tolerating the asshole sites, they hope the assholes go to other subs, driving up ad revenue.

Again, I don’t know, but I can see how the Reddit dudes may think this is viable.

Catalpa
Catalpa
7 years ago

@leftwingfox

If I’m grokking this right, this is starting to sound concerningly similar to the Deep Web to me, and if there is anything not reprehensible and horrible about the Deep Web, I’ve never heard of it. (For those unaware, they’re websites that are not indexed by search engines and often need passwords/special invitations to access, and are places where things like child porn flourishes.) If these fuckers are this toxic in the public eye, how much worse are they going to get when they have their own private little cauldron of bile and hatred to stew in?

raanab1
raanab1
7 years ago

If this is some sort of plan to avoid losing advertising revenue, I think maybe they didn’t think their clever plan through all the way.

“We’re not comfortable associating our brand with a site that has so much racist and sexist content.”
“Don’t worry, we’ve handled that.”
“Oh, you’ve removed that content from the site?”
“No! What we’ve done is kept that content on our site, put up a little bit of a block around it so it’s harder for people to keep track of, and removed the ads from it!”
“So, if we were to advertise with you we’d still be sponsoring the content we don’t want our brand connected to in any way at all.”

katz
katz
7 years ago

It’s unlikely that these guys will end up banning hate groups simply because they can’t gain revenue from them. More likely, they’ll just start trying to place ads next to them, if they can find companies who won’t object to it–or just not tell the companies at all and try to brazen it out in the media and the courts if they get caught.

But putting ads in locked parts of the site isn’t that good of an idea anyway, because the amount of traffic they get is limited. There’s practically no way this is a good plan.

sn0rkmaiden
7 years ago

Oh, how noble of reddit to allow those poor bigots, misogynists and other scumbags a safe haven to spew their bile in peace. And all for free? Well I’ll certainly be taking my business there now that I know how wonderfully inclusive they are. /s

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
7 years ago

@katz

Maybe their drilling holes in the ship, if you catch my drift.

A Wolverine
A Wolverine
7 years ago

Hiding the flaming diarrhea under the rug doesnt make it go away

really the best way to kill the shit at this point would be getting newsmedia to report that reddit is actively subsidizing hatred because the admins are spineless jellyfish

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

So, uh, Yishan was just blatantly trolling everyone yesterday when he was talking about how allowing hate speech was never part of Reddit’s vision and said it sucks to be Coontown? Because that was pretty obviously a not very subtle way of saying “Yeah, we’re going to ban this now”.

Between this, and the new CEO trolling with a “confession” about defrauding Conde Nast and setting up Pao to fail… I really don’t get the feeling that the admins are taking any of this seriously, and that’s kind of disappointing. It’d be one thing if they were just really, really dedicated to “free speech”, but to basically be mocking people who care that Reddit’s culture caters to the worst of society really strips away that vaguely-legitimate veneer and says that they just don’t care about who their policies hurt. I mean, I’d probably be inclined to think that anyway (since that’s usually what “free speech at all costs!” types really believe), but I’d at least pretend to give them the benefit of the doubt out of politeness if they weren’t doing stuff like this.

Oh, and the new CEO is still not demonstrating that he understands why many moderators need the “delete comment” feature to actually delete comments, not just super-hide them. Bleh.

All in all, this just makes me really glad that I don’t use Reddit. It’s like all the worst elements of tech culture concentrated into one place.

tinyorc
7 years ago

Huffman lacks basic understanding of why people object to his site acting as an incubator for racism and misogyny. His conception of the problem is typical of white male privilege: “Oh, people don’t like because they’re offended! If they can’t see it, they can’t be offended!” I think white men often have a hard time understanding the real and lasting damage caused by racism and misogyny because they’ve never experienced that damage themselves, so they assume that any strenuous objections must boil down to “offense” or “hurt feelings” or “political correctness” or whatever.

But the actual reason people want shit like /coontown scrubbed from the face of internet is not because it’s “offensive” and people don’t want to look at it (I’ve never visited it and I have no intention of ever doing so, but I still want it gone). It’s because these communities causes real quantifiable harm outside of Reddit. You could have nothing to do with Reddit, never visit it even in passing, and still become the target of a Reddit-based hate mob because you wrote an article or made a video or existed as a minority with an opinion on the internet.

And this “solution” is not a solution at all. If anything it’s going to make the problem worse. At least before, these people had to be what they are out in the open, with their appalling views on display for the whole world to see. But giving racists and misogynists a safe space means less accountability, less transparency, less visibility, with the same net result for the rest of the Internet. And Huffman understands that it’s not actually possible to “quarantine” these people in any real way. But he doesn’t care. All he cares about is maximizing page views and advertising revenue.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

If I’m grokking this right, this is starting to sound concerningly similar to the Deep Web to me, and if there is anything not reprehensible and horrible about the Deep Web, I’ve never heard of it.

During the Arab Spring, various groups were able to use the deep web to organize without their governments cracking down on them. And the technology used to enable the deep web also allows human rights groups to operate more safely in certain repressive countries.

That said, for people living in North America or Europe, like, 99.9% of the time, using it means either you’re one of those “The government is tracking our every move!” types, or a criminal who really does fear the government finding out they’re buying drugs/stolen goods/hiring hitmen/even worse stuff.

Basically, the overwhelming majority of people on the internet have no good use for it, but it does have legitimate purposes, which is why the State department helped fund its creation.

Well I guess that spells the end for the Philosophy of Rape subreddit. I’ll take the small victories where I can find them at this point.

Sadly, no. They banned a different rape subreddit, presumably because Gizmodo wrote an article on it. I have little faith that they’ll catch any of the others.

Relatedly, I question how many subs will actually be walled off behind this content warning thing – historically, Reddit’s only ever bothered policing stuff when the media’s shined a spotlight on it. I wager they’ll send the so-called “chimpire” behind the labels, but will they bother with anything else? And will they actually maintain the list, or just make a half-hearted effort now and then never add anything new to it again?

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
7 years ago

Yesterday reddit said one thing, today they say another, tomorrow they’ll say still another. This is what corporations look like when they’re panicking. I’ll wager that behind the smug facade there’s real fear.

They sound like they’re desperately trying every combination of promises in order to find one that’ll magically take them back to a time when their dirty laundry wasn’t public, their shareholders ignored their red ink and the racist masses didn’t have them over a barrel. Maybe today’s combination will work. Maybe tomorrow’s.

RIP Reddit.

Maybe Pao, Taylor and Blount were the smart ones to leave now.

Aunt Edna
Aunt Edna
7 years ago

Disgusting bigot appeasers. Will not set my cyberfoot on Reddit.

Aunt Edna
Aunt Edna
7 years ago

Btw, while ‘rapingwomen’ will go, ‘philosophy of rape’ remains. Apparently it does not offend Huffman’s standards of decency.

Some standards.

alternatesteve90
7 years ago

Yeah…..I honestly don’t see this ending well.

Kakanian
Kakanian
7 years ago

I guess that they’ll eventually try to drive them off by charging them for the hosting service, because otherwise this move makes absolutely no sense.

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