Reddit took a first step toward more hands-on content policing Wednesday by unveiling a new content policy that bans illegal speech, harassment and bullying. The company also started to instate warning labels for offensive communities, and banned a handful of its most racist subreddits.
Reddit’s new CEO Steve Huffman announced the new policy on its site, stating that further changes may be ahead: “This is not the last time our policies will change,” he said, adding: “They will continue to evolve along with Reddit itself.”
As part of the measures, Reddit started to instate what it calls a “quarantine” for offensive subreddits. Posts from quarantined communities isn’t indexed for search, and visitors are warned with a splash page that they may be confronted with “upsetting” content. “We will quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor,” said Huffmann.
Reddit also banned a number of subreddits known for their extremely racist content. However, Huffman said that the ideology itself wasn’t the reason for banning them. Instead, the communities were banned because their only purpose was to “annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else,” he said.
Reddit long favored an anything-goes approach toward free speech, but had increasingly come under fire in recent months for giving forums to hate speech and harassment. The recent exodus of interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao put a spotlight on this behavior; Pao had received death threats from some Reddit users after the company sacked a popular employee.