Reddit announced on Monday that it is shutting down a forum dedicated to President Trump’s most ardent fans, saying it repeatedly violates the online platform’s rules against harassment, hate speech and content manipulation.
The community forum, known as a subreddit, was called The_Donald and had nearly 800,000 users. Trump himself has been known to share memes that posted to The_Donald and other parts of Reddit.
Long a magnet for conspiracy theories and sharp attacks on the president’s critics, The_Donald has faced backlash before. Reddit has taken action over content encouraging violence and had threatened to block the subreddit completely if the moderators — who are volunteers — did not take down the abusive material.
Now, officials at Reddit have determined that the forum where die-hard Trump fans congregate online cannot police itself.
“Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. Everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence,” the company said in new content rules it unveiled on Monday.
Reddit, which is the sixth most popular website in the U.S., announced the crackdown on The_Donald as part of a wider enforcement of its hate speech policies. It said it was banning some 2,000 Reddit communities, including the left-leaning subreddit Chapo Trap House, over rule violations. Reddit said the vast majority of the subreddits affected were already inactive.
Reddit has introduced eight additional rules for its content, including measures intended to prevent harassment and respect personal privacy.
Examples of the type of content Reddit will ban include “mocking people with physical disabilities” and “describing a racial minority as sub-human and inferior to the racial majority,” the company said in a statement.
“Communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned,” Reddit said in its new policy guidelines.
After Reddit closed The_Donald, its former moderators took to Twitter to point out that many Trump loyalists have already abandoned Reddit for an alternative site known as theDonald.win. Geared toward conservatives, it looks and functions similar to Reddit but without the rules against hate speech and violence.
“Well, Reddit accomplished one thing today. They got people to go there for the first time in months to see if we were really banned. Myself included!” one former moderator tweeted.
Reddit is the latest social media company to announce new limits on what users can post. It is part of a broad shift away from the hands-off approach long embraced by online platforms that have claimed to be neutral in the face of whatever users publish.
Now, Reddit and other popular sites that help define political discourse are drawing lines that the companies say cannot be crossed on speech that glorifies violence or hate.
Twitter has placed labels on Trump tweets deemed to include factual distortions or be seen as inciting violence.
Facebook, which had been reluctant to take any action on the president’s posts, recently has removed Trump content. Last week, it announced it will be placing warning labels on problematic posts and will remove content that incites violence or attempts to suppress voting.
Facebook’s policy reversal arrived as a growing number of major advertisers, including Starbucks, Ford Motor Co. and Cola-Cola, join a boycott of the social network that’s meant to draw attention to hate speech and misinformation on the platform.
Snap, which owns Snapchat, has said it will no longer promote Trump’s account after determining that comments to the president’s posts could be seen as encouraging violence.
Also on Monday, Twitch, the Amazon-owned site for streaming games, said it temporarily suspended Trump’s account, according to a Twitch spokesperson.
The decision was made following the president rebroadcasting on his Twitch channel a 2015 campaign speech in which he disparaged Mexican immigrants and remarks he made at a recent Tulsa, Okla., rally linking Hispanics to crime.
“Hateful conduct is considered a zero-tolerance violation,” said the Twitch spokesperson.