Reddit has banned a number of major racist and Nazi subreddits in a tough new crackdown on violent content.
Pages including r/killthejews, r/nazi and r/far_right have all been closed.
In a post on the r/modnews page, the announcement from the tech giant said: “We want to let you know that we have made some updates to our site-wide rules regarding violent content. We did this to alleviate user and moderator confusion about allowable content on the site. We also are making this update so that Reddit’s content policy better reflects our values as a company.
“In particular, 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. 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.
“We understand that enforcing this policy may often require subjective judgment, so all of the usual caveats apply with regard to content that is newsworthy, artistic, educational, satirical, etc, as mentioned in the policy. Context is key.”
Explaining the policy, Reddit administrator landoflobsters said: “Generally speaking, calling for the death of a person or group of people is not permitted.”
Despite this new policy, a number of controversial pages are still available for users to access.
For example, r/Holocaust, which features content denying the Holocaust, and a page where you can watch people die (called, predictably, r/watchpeopledie) have not been banned.
When a user brought this up, admin landoflobsters said: “r/watchpeopledie has been reviewed, no plans to remove it for now. However, there are posts within the sub that are borderline so we’ll be reaching out to the mod team to clarify the policy with them.”
But one legal expert has already warned that users will be able to find ways around the new policy.
Prof Eric Heinze of Queen Mary, University of London, told the BBC: “Instead of a gross attack against black people, for example, it’ll just be things about ‘preserving our identity’. They find a coded speech that everyone understands.”
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is due to take questions on the site’s main announcements board next week about the company’s new policy.
The move to ban offensive content online comes as other infamous Nazi sites have recently been forced off the internet.
Infamous neo-Nazi community page The Daily Stormer was forced to move to the dark web after internet companies refused to host the website.
In a statement to Shortlist.com, a Reddit spokesman said: “Reddit is the home to some of the most authentic conversations online. We strive to be a welcoming, open platform for all by trusting our users to maintain an environment that cultivates genuine conversation. As of October 25, 2017, we have have made the following update to our site-wide policy: content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people is not allowed on Reddit; neither is content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals. Communities focused on this content and users who post such content will be banned from the site.”