Popular social media site Reddit became mired in controversy lately over popular pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/The_Donald. Users and mods of infamous forum and Reddit owners are involved in some serious internal drama over online abuse and harassment. Sparking further outrage is the CEO of Reddit, Steve Huffman, pledging to suppress certain pro-Trump posts.
What is the controversy all about and how is it connected to Donald Trump? What are the radical changes Reddit is bringing? Here are the answers you need.
On Reddit, the unofficial channel supporting the U.S. Republican party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump, has repeatedly featured racist and misogynistic comments. It even spawned fake news and conspiracy theories about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Things further soured last week when Reddit banned Pizzagate, a community devoted to a conspiracy theory, that linked the Clintons to a pedophile ring at a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor. Users took to The_Donald thread and started posting the abusive comments about Huffman.
The controversy erupted after Huffman admitted to editing Reddit user comments that criticized and insulted him.
He wielded his power to anonymously change references to his own username, and replace them with moderators of the pro-Donald Trump subreddit, r/the_donald.
“I messed with the ‘fuck u/spez’ comments, replacing ‘spez’ with r/the_donald mods for about an hour,” Huffman said, indicating that the only thing he secretly altered was the target of the insults.
Huffman said he edited the comments because they were largely abusive, alleging that he was a pedophile, and mentioned him by name.
New Changes to Reddit
In a recent blog post, the Reddit CEO announced his decision to crack down on online harassment.
Huffman promised two major actions. Posts from The Donald will no longer appear in /r/all, a page that shows users the top posts from across Reddit. The thread is not explicitly censored as you can still find it if you know where to look. However, for casual users of Reddit, removing a subreddit from /r/all dramatically decreases that sub’s general reach.
In addition, Huffman also said that Reddit will take action against hundreds of its “most toxic users,” with actions ranging from warnings to permanent bans.
However, the decision has polarized people on both sides. Some of the users have suggested altogether banning The Donald thread. Others have criticized Reddit for muzzling free speech.