The popular online community Reddit has taken a bold new stand against violent hate groups. In addition to instituting stricter rules banning content that incites violence or harm to others (including our furry friends), Reddit admins have eliminated several sub-Reddit communities devoted to neo-nazis and other unsavory groups.
This latest crackdown has seen the closure of at least 10 sub-Reddits including r/NationalSocialism, r/Nazi, and r/DylannRoofInnocent. There are likely to be many more, as new sub-Reddits are prone to pop-up daily.
While I generally commend Reddit’s stand against evil here, I see a couple major challenges. For one, shutting down these sub-reddits is a bit of a slippery slope — sure, anything even remotely related to torturing animals clearly needs to be banned… but when it comes to politics, where do we draw the line? If Nazis are unwelcome, what about communists or anarchists? The line here, I think, needs to clear: if it’s encouraging violence it shouldn’t be tolerated.
The other challenge is going to be policing the whole of Reddit with a relatively limited staff (Reddit employs about 300 compared with thousands by Facebook or Twitter). Reddit relies heavily on volunteer admins to keep order in all the major sub-Reddits. Yet, new communities can form under the radar, and can be quite difficult to police on a website with millions of daily users.
Still, I think this is a sensible move by Reddit, who, now standing among the other online giants, is feeling a sense of moral obligation as well as the need to protect their public image.