In a public AMA, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has promised new content guidelines for the forum site. Reddit has been in turmoil for the past few weeks, culminating in the resignation of former CEO Ellen Pao. As Huffman said yesterday on Reddit, as u/spez, neither he nor cofounder Alexis Ohanian intended the site adhere strictly to free speech.
The new content guidelines are meant to be a framework on which Reddit would build an official content policy, Huffman wrote:
No company is perfect at addressing these hard issues. We’ve spent the last few days here discussing and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don’t want to associate with the business, but gives individuals freedom to consume it if they choose. This is what we will try, and if the hateful users continue to spill out into mainstream reddit, we will try more aggressive approaches. Freedom of expression is important to us, but it’s more important to us that we at reddit be true to our mission.
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The guidelines Huffman laid out are as follows:
These types of content are prohibited :
- 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
- 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 explained types of classified content.
There are other types of content that are specifically classified:
- Adult content must be flagged as NSFW (Not Safe For Work). Users must opt into seeing NSFW communities. This includes pornography, which is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it.
- Similar to NSFW, another type of content that is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it, is the content that violates a common sense of decency. This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.
While NSFW content has been classified as such for a while, the “common decency” category is harder to define. Huffman doesn’t offer specifics, but it might allude to hateful speech and ideas that are considered toxic to parts of the Reddit community.
Although the new guidelines are up today, Huffman said in the post that they will consider banning subreddits that violate these guidelines.
Huffman also said that /r/rapingwomen will be banned, as they are encouraging people to rape, and white supremacist /r/coontown will be reclassified. The company banned five subreddits for violating policy in June, including /r/fatpeoplehate, which drew ire from users.
But the policy might take some time to get started, as Huffman said:
We won’t formally change or policy until we have the tools to support it. Giving moderators better tools to deal with individuals is an important part of this process. Giving our employed community managers additional tools to assist the moderators is also required.
➤ Let’s Talk Content. AMA [Reddit]
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