No rape please, but racism is fine – Reddit CEO outlines new rules

Reinstated Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has outlined what he believes is a new future for Reddit where its most distasteful content is stamped out.

Effectively it boils down to this: Users can say they don’t like something or someone, but they can’t incite action against others or harass them.

As a result, subreddits such as r/rapingwomen and r/killingwomen will be banned – yes, those are real, functioning subreddits – while the likes of r/coontown have been greenlit.

Other banned content includes the publication of someone’s private and confidential information, spam, hosting pirated/illegal material (although discussing it is fine).

Sexually suggestive content involving minors is also banned, although legitimate adult content is fine as long as it is flagged as NSFW (not safe for work). Users will also have to opt into NSFW communities.

More muddy is content that violates a common sense of decency”, which Huffman accepts is hard to define. This content must be opted into and will require a login. It will also not appear on search results and will as a result not generate ad revenue for Reddit.

We started Reddit to be… a source of enough news, entertainment, and random distractions to fill an entire day of pretending to work, every day,” Huffman said.

Occasionally, someone would start spewing hate, and I would ban them. The community rarely questioned me. When they did, they accepted my reasoning: because I don’t want that content on our site. As we grew, I became increasingly uncomfortable projecting my worldview on others. More practically, I didn’t have time to pass judgement on everything, so I decided to judge nothing.

So we entered a phase that can best be described as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This worked temporarily, but once people started paying attention, few liked what they found. A handful of painful controversies usually resulted in the removal of a few communities, but with inconsistent reasoning and no real change in policy.

As Reddit has grown, we’ve seen additional examples of how unfettered free speech can make Reddit a less enjoyable place to visit, and can even cause people harm outside of Reddit.

No company is perfect at addressing these hard issues. We’ve spent the last few days here discussing and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don’t want to associate with the business, but gives individuals freedom to consume it if they choose. This is what we will try, and if the hateful users continue to spill out into mainstream Reddit, we will try more aggressive approaches. Freedom of expression is important to us, but it’s more important to us that we at Reddit be true to our mission.”

The changes follow the recent departure of former CEO Ellen Pao.

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