Reddit's The_Donald Quarantine Causes Subreddit Drama and Ban Fear

On Wednesday, Reddit quarantined the pro-Trump subreddit The_Donald, citing threats against the lives of politicians and police. In Reddit parlance, a quarantine isn't an outright ban, but instead the institution of a warning before entering The_Donald subreddit.

"Recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy," a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement released to The Daily Beast. "As a result, we have actioned individual users and quarantined the subreddit."

Going to r/The_Donald now leads to a quarantine warning page. Reddit

"Are you sure you want to view this community? This community is quarantined," the warning from Reddit reads. "It is restricted due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of the Reddit Content Policy. Most recently the violations have included threats of violence against police and public officials."

Long known as a hotbed of racist, misogynistic, islamophobic and antisemitic online discourse, Reddit found The_Donald community crossed a line with repeated calls for violence against state officials in Oregon. This week, the Oregon legislature gave up on plans to pass a cap on greenhouse gas emissions—a necessary precondition for curtailing the catastrophic loss of life projected by climate science—after enough Democratic legislators failed to come onboard against universal Republican opposition. In the fight over the climate change bill, threats from right-wing militia groups temporarily shut down the Oregon capitol, while Republican legislators fled the state, promising violent reprisals of their own against any police sent after them.

Comments on The_Donald endorsing terrorist violence against lawmakers—including Governor Kate Brown—and/or a full-scaled uprising found wide support in the community. "None of this gets fixed without people picking up rifles," one comment with 49 upvotes read. Another called for Portland and Eugene to be burnt to the ground, though far more common was the invocation of the Second Amendment, with gun violence, including "Vietcong style ambush" brought against fellow Oregonians described as "anti-American traitors" and "globalists." Media Matters archived dozens of similar comments from the subreddit.

The quarantine has already become a focal point for hard right celebrities, like conspiracy theorist, plagiarist and serial hoaxer Jack Posobiec, who achieved fame in right-wing circles for live-streaming a children's birthday party at Comet Ping Pong in promotion of the Pizzagate hoax.

Speaking within the community, Reddit administrators have ascribed fault to the moderators of The_Donald community, who have allowed threats of violence to fester. "The reason for the quarantine is that over the last few months we have observed repeated rule-breaking behavior in your community and an over-reliance on Reddit admins to manage users and remove posts that violate our content policy, including content that encourages or incites violence," a Reddit administrator wrote in a message posted to mods of The_Donald. "We recognize that you do remove posts that are reported, but we are troubled that violent content more often goes unreported, and worse, is upvoted."

Reddit's administrators have asked The_Donald mods to "unambiguously communicate to your subscribers that violent content is unacceptable," among a list of other reforms, after which Reddit will consider an appeal on the quarantine.

A moderator of The_Donald rebuffed the calls for reform, describing the quarantine as an attempt "to kill us before the 2020 election."

Reddit's The_Donald Quarantine Causes Subreddit Drama and Ban Fear | Politics