By Nigel Boys
Five groups, or subreddits, from the social networking and news website, Reddit, have been banned from the popular online community this week because three of them attack Blacks, gays and transgenders and the other two are devoted to shaming obese people, according to Time.
“Today we are removing five subreddits that break our reddit rules based on their harassment of individuals, the Reddit team, including CEO Ellen Pao and other executives, announced in a statement on Wednesday. “Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform.”
Time reports that the most popular of the five subreddits that was banned appears to have been a group called r/fatpeoplehat, consisting of over 5,000 members who regularly ridiculed fat people.
However, the move has not pleased all Reddit members, because some have accused the online community management of heavy-handed and arbitrary decision making.
One member posted a list of other groups dedicated to abusive topics that remained a part of the subreddit groups, just underneath Reddit’s announcement of the banned five. Substantial support was given to this comment by fellow members through comments and upvotes.
Members who supported the executive decision to ban the five groups stated that their removal of subreddits should not stop there, declaring there were several others that needed to be removed.
“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,” Reddit said in response to the criticism. “It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward.”
“When we are using the word ‘harass,’ we’re not talking about ‘being annoying’ or vote manipulation or anything,” said Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian. “We’re talking about men and women whose lives are being affected and worry for their safety every day, because people from a certain community on Reddit have decided to actually threaten them, online and off.”
However, right-wing news site Breitbart reported that Markus Persson, the Swedish creator of Minecraft, a sandbox independent video game, wrote that “Reddit’s turmoil will surely please web culture bloggers who have at times appeared hell-bent on the site’s destruction.”
Wednesday was not the first time Reddit banned groups for violating abuse guidelines, according to Time. Last year they shut down a forum called “the fappening,” which showed images of private nude photographs of celebrities. Many of the photographs had been posted by hackers and after public outcry, Reddit removed the group.
“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,” Reddit’s statement concluded. “Thanks for working with us. Please keep the feedback coming.”