Reddit’s returning CEO Steve Huffman took to the site Thursday to propose a new set of content guidelines that is meant to curb harassment, and in turn help the popular but at times unruly site monetize its massive audience.
Huffman celebrated Reddit as “a place to have open and authentic discussions,” and said that it long favored a hands-off approach toward content policing to foster this spirit of openness. However, that spirit also led to an increased amount of mobbing and harassment, some of which had been directed against Ellen Pao, Reddit’s interim CEO, who resigned from her post late last week.
Huffman said that Reddit’s leadership is considering a new set of guidelines to deal with these issues, including the outright banning of illegal activity like the distribution of copyrighted material. Also banned would be any content that “incites harm or violence against an individual or group of people” or “harasses, bullies or abuses an individual or group of people” as well as sexual suggestive content featuring minors.
Reddit wants to go further by also putting an increased amount of content out of sight. Huffman said that adult content as well as “content that violates a common sense of decency” would be available only to registered users who opt in to consuming it, and wouldn’t be featured in search results.
The new rules are building upon Reddit’s existing content guidelines. Subreddits with more extreme points of view could continue to exist, but would be shielded from the public eye with a new opt-in mechanism. Huffman said that the company may be prepared to go further if this approach doesn’t work: “This is what we will try, and if the hateful users continue to spill out into mainstream Reddit, we will try more aggressive approaches.”