Reddit Bans Neo-Nazi and European Nationalist Subreddits (Again)

Reddit bans neo-Nazi subreddits
Co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, left, and co-editor at TechCrunch, Alexia Tsotsis, appear onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Reddit is taking additional action to prevent users from spreading violent and hateful content by updating some rules and regulations that the company said were "too vague." In a statement released on Wednesday, Reddit said it would be making site-wide updates that have already resulted in a wave of subreddits being banned on the social news sharing site.

Reddit said some policy changes are needed to ease confusion on what content is shareable on the site, as prior rule changes had directly affected subreddits that included Nazi and European nationalist propaganda.

"In particular, we found that the policy regarding "inciting" violence was too vague, and so we have made an effort to adjust it to be more clear and comprehensive. Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise, we will also take action against content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals. This applies to ALL content on Reddit, including memes, CSS/community styling, flair, subreddit names, and usernames," the statement read.

"We understand that enforcing this policy may often require subjective judgment, so all of the usual caveats apply with regard to content that is newsworthy, artistic, educational, satirical, etc., as mentioned in the policy. Context is key."

Seven communities are no longer accessible on Reddit, according to Gizmodo, including r/EuropeanNationalism, r/Nazi, and r/pol, which was an extension of the 4chan community board of the same name. Of the newly banned channels, the most-visited subreddit had more than 7,000 followers.

This isn't the first time Reddit has taken extra measures to prevent hate speech or violent content from being shared.

In 2015, Reddit made policy changes that forced a number of subreddits to clean up content promoting anti-Semitism and white supremacy while two notorious subreddits—r/coontown and r/fatpeoplehate—that were widely known for toxic, violent content and hate speech were shut down.

The move directly countered the sentiments of the company's former CEO, Yishan Wong, who vowed to "not ban questionable subreddits." Wong was the head of the company from 2012 until resigning in 2014.

Following Reddit's first-ever community bans, hate speech on the site dropped some 90 percent for some users, according to a September study from researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and the University of Michigan.