Trolls under pressure as both Reddit and Twitter take action to limit hate

Ben Parfitt
Trolls under pressure as both Reddit and Twitter take action to limit hate

The internet's reputation as a hatred free-for-all is being increasingly challenged, and now two of its leading networks have taken steps to limit people's freedom to abuse.

Having outlined a new anti-harassment policy last month, Rediit has today taken the unprecedented step of completely banning five hate-led subreddits – r/fatpeoplehate (which had over 150k subscribers), r/hamplanethatred, r/transfags, r/neofag, and r/shitniggerssay.

Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform,” the company said. 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.

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.

While we do not always agree with the content and views expressed on the site, we do protect the right of people to express their views and encourage actual conversations according to the rules of Reddit.”

Many users, somewhat predictably, have reacted in outrage at what they see as a curtailment of free speech as opposed to a move to protect the vulnerable. Their response so far has been to flood the site with content and directly harass Reddit CEO Ellen Pao.

In other news, Twitter has enabled shared block lists that are designed to allow users to block significant numbers of trolls with a single click.

You can now export and share your block lists with people in your community facing similar issues or import another user's list into your own account and block multiple accounts all at once, instead of blocking them individually,” Twitter user safety engineer Xiaoyun Zhang said in a blog post.

Last December, we launched the blocked accounts settings page and tightened the rules so accounts you've blocked can't view your profile. In April, we announced additional policy and enforcement changes. This feature is yet another step towards making Twitter safer for everyone and will be available to some of our users starting today and all users in the coming weeks.”

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