Reddit has banned nearly 7,000 subreddits including repeat offenders under its newly revised moderation policy. The banned subreddits include those with names and descriptions that were inherently harmful, those with a large fraction of hateful content, and those that positively engage with hateful content. This was posted by Reddit user u/worstnerd, a member of the platform’s safety team.
What was the impact of the removal? The purge led to a 18% reduction in users posting hateful content, as compared to two weeks prior to the ban. “First I want to make it clear that this is a preliminary study, we certainly have more work to do to understand and address how these behaviors and content take root.”
By the numbers: Of the banned subreddits, about 480 (or 6.89%) had between a hundred and 5,000 subscribers. Over 75% of the banned subreddits had only ten or fewer subscribers. Before being banned, they were viewed by 365,000 users each day.
Viewership of hateful content before ban: The changes come after Reddit announced a new policy, explicitly banning hate speech. Before the policy was rolled out, around 40,000 pieces of potentially hateful content was posted everyday, and these got 6.4 million views (0.16% of all views) each day. 30% of all potentially hateful content is reported each day, and 97% of this are removed by moderators and an automated tool.
“Again, this is partially driven by AutoModerator removals and the reduced exposure. The lower reporting figure is also related to the fact that not all of the things surfaced as potentially hateful are actually hateful…so it would be surprising for this to have been 100% as well,” the post said. Reddit also said that nearly half of all hateful content was about ethnicity and nationality, and 16% of it was about class and political affiliation.
Reddit has been criticised for tolerating racist and hateful content: Reddit has been criticised in the past for tolerating racist content and content with nudity. Even though its content policy prohibits incitement of violence, bullying and harassment, it has always been unclear about enforcement. After Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the US, Reddit had said that it does not “tolerate hate, racism, and violence”.
The site’s users and especially some moderators felt this was something Reddit promised but never enforced. Days after this, moderators from 800 message boards signed an open letter demanding that the company ban hate speech, shut down racist subreddits, and offer better support to moderators. It had demanded that Reddit enact a policy against racism and hate speech and hire more community managers, among other demands.