Reddit is conducting another wave of community bans against neo-Nazi groups after it expanded its policies on violent content.
The social news aggregation site was quick to enforce its new rules, banning several Nazi-sympathizing hate groups and animal abuse communities, including r/NationalSocialism, r/Nazi, r/whitesarecriminals, and r/SexWithDogs. At least a dozen groups have been banned so far.
The housecleaning came after Reddit clarified on r/modnews its policy regarding violent content. The new rules expand its power to crack down on groups that incite violence.
“We found that the policy regarding “inciting” violence was too vague, and so we have made an effort to adjust it to be more clear and comprehensive,” admin “landoflobsters” wrote. “Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise, we will also take action against content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals. This applies to ALL content on Reddit, including memes, CSS/community styling, flair, subreddit names, and usernames.”
Not all distasteful groups will be banned. For example, a Reddit moderator said the self-explanatory subreddit r/WatchPeopleDie has “been reviewed, no plans to remove it for now.”
Reddit started aggressively banning neo-Nazi subreddits following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where violence broke out between white nationalists and counter-protestors. The subreddit /r/Physical_Removal was banned for violating the former terms. The site said at the time in a statement to CNET that it’s “very clear” in its terms of service about posting violent content.
Admins have traditionally taken a hands-off approach to dealing with questionable content. In 2012, former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong famously defended the site’s position after Gawker wrote an expose on Reddit troll Violentacrez.
“We stand for free speech,” he wrote. “This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it. Not because that’s the law in the United States—because as many people have pointed out, privately owned forums are under no obligation to uphold it—but because we believe in that ideal independently, and that’s what we want to promote on our platform.”
Reddit is now searching for ways to clean up its platform, much like other social media sites that have faced public criticism for failing to protect users. Current Reddit CEO Steve Huffman will conduct an AMA on the rule change next week.