The downside to Reddit’s public forum for discussion has been abusive language and communities, and on Wednesday, the company released an update to its policy after the return of new CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman a few weeks ago.
In short, the policy is implementing the quarantining of certain “subreddits” — discussion threads nested within Reddit’s larger community — in an effort to balance free speech and keeping the site as welcoming as possible.
“A community will be Quarantined on Reddit when we deem its content to be extremely offensive or upsetting to the average redditor. The purpose of quarantining a community is to prevent its content from being accidentally viewed by those who do not wish to do so,” the policy states.
But it’s also banning others, including some of the most notoriously racist ones like /r/CoonTown, /r/WatchNiggersDie, /r/bestofcoontown,/r/koontown, /r/CoonTownMods, /r/CoonTownMeta.
“Today, in addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations,” Huffman wrote in an announcement of the policy change.
Reddit solicited feedback from its users recently. Despite the long-standing view of Reddit as a have for free speech, Huffman clarified that he and co-founder Alexis Ohanian never intended for it to be a “bastion of free speech,” and that certain rules should be in place to protect users from harassment and abuse, which is much different than simply views or content they don’t like.
Reddit’s only banned a handful of communities at the moment but it will have to carefully thread banning and quarantining as it continues to evaluate content as its community has proven quite sensitive the leadership’s meddling.