Reddit is a total fucking mess, but the new boss is laying down the law. The site’s CEO Steve Huffman opened a traditional Ask Me Anything session this afternoon with a fairly non-traditional type of announcement. Or at least it’s non-traditional for Reddit because CEO Steve is banning specific types of content.
It all makes sense. The types of content that are now banned on Reddit are banned on most internet websites where a civil discourse could be expected:
• Anything illegal (i.e. things that are actually illegal, such as copyrighted material. Discussing illegal activities, such as drug use, is not illegal)
• Publication of someone’s private and confidential information
• Anything that incites harm or violence against an individual or group of people
• Anything that harasses, bullies, or abuses an individual or group of people (these behaviours intimidate others into silence)
• Sexually suggestive content featuring minors
Harassment and child pornography and revenge porn and private information: These are all very bad things. CEO Steve also laid out some guidelines for marking NSFW content as such and invoking the United States Supreme Court definition of obscenity. (“You know it when you see it.”) Again, it’s hard to see why any for-profit company would want to host this type of content.
But this is Reddit we’re talking about here. CEO Steve’s announcement comes two weeks after Reddit freaked out over the firing of its AMA coordinator, sparking a firestorm of discussion over vile content and the firing of former Reddit chief Ellen Pao. There was bound to be a reckoning and time will tell whether this will fuel an exodus of free speech-loving Redditors, or a bright future with a Reddit that’s not full of abuse that smells like misogyny.
The AMA is on-going, but we’re watching for reactions from the community. So stick around. This is going to get messy.
Illustration by Gizmodo