Reddit cracks down on obscene content after shake-ups

Should Reddit be a 'bastion of free speech' or free from hate?

Reddit's new CEO Steve Huffman has a tough job on his hands. He's going to try and corral the site's angry, confused and betrayed masses with a new set of community guidelines that, according to an Ask Me Anything (AMA) held on Thursday, are a "set of additional restrictions on what people can say on Reddit—or at least say on our public pages—in the spirit of our mission."

Huffman, one of the two original co-founders and one of the first CEOs at Reddit, laid out six "types of content" that will effectively be banned sometime in the near future and will be enforced by community moderators as well as the staff of Reddit. These types of content are prohibited:

  • Spam
  • Anything illegal (i.e. things that are actually illegal, such as copyrighted material. Discussing illegal activities, such as drug use, is not illegal)
  • Publication of someone's private and confidential information
  • Anything that incites harm or violence against an individual or group of people (it's ok to say "I don't like this group of people." It's not ok to say, "I'm going to kill this group of people.")
  • Anything that harasses, bullies, or abuses an individual or group of people (these behaviors intimidate others into silence)
  • Sexually suggestive content featuring minors

Huffman also outlined a new type of filter that will go on posts for "content that violates a common sense of decency." In order to see this content, users will now need to register with the website as well as opt-in via the preferences.

These new guidelines will hopefully curb some of the most hateful commenters while keeping the website a place where users can go to share content, goof-off and, yes, even complain about life, without fear of being kicked out.

Huffman is the site's fourth CEO to take on these issues with the previous two, Ellen Pao and Yishan Wong, resigning after the community lashed out at non-democratically chosen policy changes.