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“As of March 21, 2018, we have made a new addition to our content policy forbidding transactions for certain classes of goods and services,” a representative from Reddit told Racked in an email. “Moving forward, we are prohibiting transactions that are either illicit or strictly controlled. Communities focused on such transactions and users who attempt to conduct them will be banned from the site.”
In addition to the end of /shoplifting, Reddit banned the solicitation and sale of paid sexual acts, along with other goods and services, including firearms, ammunition, explosives, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, personal information, falsified documents and currency, and stolen items. Other communities have been taken down, including the dark net subreddit and forum trading beer.
“When considering a gift or transaction of goods or services not prohibited by this policy, keep in mind that Reddit is not intended to be used as a marketplace and takes no responsibility for any transactions individual users might decide to undertake in spite of this,” Reddit said in a community post. “Always remember: You are dealing with strangers on the internet.”
Reddit made this policy change the same day the U.S. Senate passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which holds companies responsible for any sex trafficking content on their websites. The act does this by amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which limited websites’ liability for user-generated content. Presumably, this new act played a role in Reddit’s content policy change.
Quite a few Reddit users were unhappy about the abrupt change in policy—one user has gone as far as to threaten to sue the website because he believes his intellectual property has been destroyed. Others either applauded the website’s decision or had no idea the community existed.
IS THIS REAL LIFE?!?— Keith Lee (@associatesmind) March 22, 2018
Reddit bans & deletes r/shoplifting (finally!).
Redittor wants to sue because of the destruction of his intellectual property. pic.twitter.com/DU2oJoGpNd
This is the kind of stuff people use Reddit for? Shoplifting? Just watch the Beverly Hills 90210 episode where Brenda starts stealing. #90210 https://t.co/RX6iej8NY3— Jessica (@jessicarshelton) March 24, 2018
Oh cool, reddit finally banned the hive of scum idiots in the shoplifting subreddit who 'steal as a political message'.— [Captain] (@CalzoneLover) March 22, 2018
Reddit isn’t the only site changing up its content policy in the wake of FOSTA. Craigslist also removed its “Personals” section on Thursday.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.