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Some of Reddit's most popular threads are going private to protest hate speech and racism on the platform

Paige Leskin   

Some of Reddit's most popular threads are going private to protest hate speech and racism on the platform
  • More than 25 popular Reddit threads are going private Wednesday to protest the platform's policies on hate speech and racism.
  • Various subreddits have said the move is designed to call attention to Reddit's lack of action against users posting hateful content and threads filled with alt-right rhetoric, such as the platform's infamous subreddit r/the_donald.
  • In response to ongoing nationwide protests over police brutality, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman recently penned a letter to employees, saying the platform doesn't tolerate "hate, racism, and violence." The statement has been widely criticized.

A slew of popular Reddit threads are going dark — meaning no one can share new posts or responses — Wednesday to protest Reddit's failure to adequately deal with racist rhetoric and hateful content on its platform.

The move, taken by moderators of subreddits with millions of members, comes as protests against police brutality are happening around the world on a daily basis. In posts across more than 25 subreddits, moderators publicly called out Reddit leadership a day after CEO Steve Huffman penned a letter to employees in which he said the platform does not tolerate "hate, racism, and violence."

Despite Huffman's statement, Reddit has long faced criticism for housing hate speech and harmful misinformation. As one of the top-20 most popular websites in the world, Reddit fields prolific threads where users disseminate global news and debate hot-button issues. But it's also yielded popular subreddits where harmful rhetoric, including racism and homophobia, has proliferated.

The subreddits that decided Wednesday to go private include r/NFL, r/military, r/AskReddit, r/EDM, r/DankMemes, and several others across a variety of genres. In a post on r/MaleFashionAdvice, a moderator called out Reddit's "blatant hypocrisy" in allowing hateful subreddits to exist while publicly condemning police brutality.

"To us, actions speak louder than words," the moderator u/BespokeDebtor wrote Wednesday. "The admins have repeatedly demonstrated a tolerance for such behavior and provided sanctuary to the very people they're supposedly condemning."

These subreddits moderators aren't the only people who have publicly denounced Huffman's letter in response to ongoing protests. Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao took to Twitter on Tuesday to call out Huffman for refusing to shut down r/the_donald, a popular pro-Trump subreddit with nearly 800,000 members that's been to users spewing white supremacist and racist rhetoric.

Reddit decided to "quarantine" the subreddit in June 2019 after users threatened violence against public officials. Although r/the_donald can no longer generate revenue or appear in search results, the subreddit still remains on the platform.

"You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence," Pao wrote on Twitter. "So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don't get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long."

The actions moderators are taking in protest are varied, from shutting subreddits down for several hours to encouraging users to donate to Black Lives Matters organizations. The moderators for r/AskReddit — a subreddit with more than 28 million members — wrote they're disabling posting for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, representing how long a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee of the neck of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25.

Floyd's death has sparked protests in the United States and worldwide to protest systemic police brutality.


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