Reddit finally moves to close racist threads, but what was the real motivation?

Ben Parfitt
Reddit finally moves to close racist threads, but what was the real motivation?

Having said recently that it would not be closing down racist threads, Reddit has once again changed its content strategy to prohibit a handful of notorious hangouts.

The headline closure is r/CoonTown, although a number of other subreddits including r/WatchNiggersDie, r/bestofcoontown and r/CoonTownMeta have also now vanished.

Reddit in July said that it would no longer allow subreddits that incite violence, abuse or harassment, but drew the line at banning racist threads as, according to CEO Steve Huffman, he didn't wish to project his worldview onto others”.

A new content policy alteration has changed this, however.

Our policies are not changing dramatically from what we have had in the past,” Huffman has said. We are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else.

Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations. I believe these policies strike the right balance.

I know some of you are upset because we banned anything today, but the fact of the matter is we spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with a handful of communities, which prevents us from working on things for the other 99.98% (literally) of Reddit.”

However, subsequent comments from Huffman have caused some to question the real motivations behind the decision.

We didn't ban them for being racist,” he told one user of the closed threads. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but CT's existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult.”

Reddit last week suffered its fourth major female staff departure in four weeks.

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