Reddit has announced a change in policy for its readers, hiding, by default, racist or hateful communities on unless they “opt-in” manually.
The updated content policy was announced by the online community’s CEO, Steve Huffman, who had previously mentioned that this update was coming last month. The concept, although it is sure to evolve, is centered around the idea of “quarantining” content, protecting new users from things that may turn them off from the website.
“We will quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average Redditor,” said Huffman in his announcement, explaining that these communities will not generate revenue.
In addition to quarantining communities, the company has also completely banned several communities that they deemed to “exist solely to annoy other Redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else.” Included in this ban is a white supremacist community.
Many users view this move to police content posted by its users as a motion to be more like some of the world’s largest social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. Since many users view Reddit as a community for openly sharing information, Reddit has to keep a balance between its identity as a positive hate-free environment with its current community.
Many users of the website have been used to a policy that allowed basically anything and everything to go. While this allowed open discussion of sensitive topics, it also encouraged hate speech and unsavory conversation to fester. Through these policy changes, intense controversy has emerged as users express fear that the website is moving toward censorship.
Since November, the company has seen had three different CEOs, and several prominent employees have departed.
Reddit was founded in 2005, and attracts nearly 164 million visitors every month. Despite all its troubles, Reddit has no shortage of cash. The company announced in September that it had raised $50 million from several venture capitalist firms. It also announced a plan to share 10 percent of equity in the company to its own community of users “in recognition of the central role the community plays in Reddit’s ongoing success.”