Reddit users rebel after site bans 5 harassing subforums

WATCH ABOVE: Reddit cracks down on trolls. Nicole Bogart reports.

TORONTO – Reddit has banned and removed five subreddits for harassment, a month after announcing new community guidelines designed to crack down on abusive behaviour on the site.

One of the banned subreddits, called  r/fatpeoplehate, had more than 5,000 subscribers. It ridiculed overweight people. Reddit did not disclose the names of the other banned subreddits; but, according to a report by TechCrunch, the names of those groups included slurs related to race, gender and sexual orientation.

Last month Reddit said it was unhappy with harassment on its site and survey data showed its users were also upset about the behaviour, adding it would ban users for harassing behaviour and language. In a company blog post, Reddit said its ‘almost-anything goes’ policies were actually stifling expression and making users fearful because some of them were being attacked and harassed.

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“Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform. We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment,” Reddit said in an announcement.

“It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.”

Earlier this year, Reddit also said it would remove photos, videos and links with explicit content if the person in the image hadn’t given permission for it to be posted.

But many Reddit users, who contribute to over 9,000 active communities, are not happy with the site’s new policy.

Following the ban of the five subreddits Wednesday, many users flooded the website with content harassing CEO Ellen Pao. Many users also threatened to leave the site, accusing Pao of “censorship.”

“This is the beginning of the end of Reddit, ladies and gentlemen,” one user wrote in the thread announcing the bans.

“Ellen Pao will be remembered for the collapse of Reddit,” added another.

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Many users also pointed out that more offensive and controversial subreddits have remained untouched by the new rules.

With files from the Associated Press