Reddit bans subreddit dedicated to Donald Trump in effort to curb hate speech

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Reddit has banned its r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse subreddits in an effort to more explicitly curb hate speech on its platform.

The social networking and message board site announced Monday that its communities — known as subreddits — were banned because they “consistently host rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.”

Reddit said they were banned for violating several rules aimed at preventing attacks on marginalized groups or vulnerable communities, as well as vote manipulation and interfering with Reddit’s operations.

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About 2,000 other subreddits will also be banned, the majority of which Reddit says are inactive.

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The website also introduced two new rules: first, that communities and users who promote hate based on “identity or vulnerability” will be banned. The second asks subreddit admins to abide by “community rules” and “post with authentic, personal interest.”

“We are committed to working with you to combat the bad actors, abusive behaviours, and toxic communities that undermine our mission and get in the way of the creativity, discussions, and communities that bring us all to Reddit in the first place,” the announcement read.

In an emailed statement to Global News, Republican Congressman Jim Banks said the subreddit had an “outsized role” in helping Trump win the election in 2016.

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“With 2020 fast approaching, they just can’t help themselves. Reddit has long targeted r/The_Donald for years — harshly enforcing its content policy there while ignoring more egregious rule-breaking in left-wing communities,” he said.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on.”

Reddit’s decision comes less than one month after its co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, resigned in a show of solidarity linked to worldwide protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee against his neck for over eight minutes.

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In a series of tweets, Ohanian asked he be replaced by a Black candidate. On June 10, Reddit announced his replacement, Michael Seibel — a Yale graduate who co-founded Twitch Interactive, which was known as until 2014.

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Twitch, a video live streaming service operated by Twitch Interactive, has also temporarily suspended Donald Trump from its platform.

“Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch. In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed,” a company spokesperson told Global News in an emailed statement.

The spokesperson included transcripts from two events that violated Twitch’s hateful conduct code, including Trump’s speech at the Tulsa rally on June 20, as well as a 2016 campaign rally speech, where the U.S. president made comments that were criticized as racist towards Mexican immigrants.

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“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you,” Trump said in his speech.

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“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.”

Calls for social media sites to proactively shut down misinformation have been growing in recent years. Twitter started placing fact-checking labels on potentially harmful tweets in May and has begun testing a new feature that would prompt Android users to open articles before sharing them.

Earlier this month, Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, accused Snapchat of trying to “rig the 2020 election” after it announced it would stop promoting the U.S. president’s account, claiming Trump’s rhetoric incited violence.

More than 80 brands, including Coca Cola, Patagonia and Unilever have agreed to pause advertising on Facebook until the company agrees to take more concrete steps against hate speech and misinformation share on its platform.

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On Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would begin labelling newsworthy content that violates the social media company’s policies, begin banning false claims intended to discourage voting and add links to “authoritative” information to all posts and ads about voting.

“I’m committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues, because I believe we can make more progress when we hear each other,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“But I also stand against hate, or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that no matter where it comes from.”

More to come. 

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