Reddit bans 7000 subreddits in hate speech crackdown, but says there's 'more work to do'

The social media company found hateful posts on the site dropped by nearly one fifth

Adam Smith
Friday 21 August 2020 17:12 BST

Reddit has seen a drop in users posting hateful content after cracking down on thousands of subreddits.

The online discussion platform has removed almost 7,000 subreddits since starting a policy explicitly banning hate speech at the end of June, but the company said that there is still “more work to do”.

It came after a wave of non-official Trump-supporting groups were banned for breaking rules and mere weeks after Black Lives Matter protests.

Many apolitical subreddits were hacked to promote Donald Trump, following the suspension of the r/the_Donald subreddit.

Online hate speech has become a growing concern in recent years leading to calls for tech giants to act faster on the matter.

Reddit found hateful posts dropped by 18 percent on the site compared to the two weeks prior to the ban.

Writing on the company's security discussion board, a member of the safety team said: “While I would love that number to be 100 percent, I'm encouraged by the progress.”

The company said preliminary research shows that almost half (48 per cent) of offending content is targeted at race or nationality, while 16 percent focused on class or political affiliation, 12 percent on sexuality, ten percent on gender, six percent on religion and one percent on ability.

However, Reddit said it has more work to do on refining the numbers and hoped to share more data in the future.

Before Reddit's tougher stance began, it had around 40,000 potentially hateful pieces of content each day, making up 0.2 per cent of content on the entire platform.

These posts, comments, and messages garnered 6.47 million views, the equivalent to 0.16 percent of total daily views - some of which is removed by bots before anyone gets a chance to see it.

It is not clear what these numbers look like now, after the new rules were enforced.

“We have more work to do on both our understanding of hate on the platform and eliminating its presence,” a Reddit safety staffer said.

“We will continue to improve transparency around our efforts to tackle these issues, so please consider this the continuation of the conversation, not the end.”

Hate speech on Reddit has been a controversial issue following the Black Lives Matter protests in the US. Moderators of 500 Reddit communities said the company needs to do more to tackle malicious users on its platform.

Former CEO Ellen Pao, who was harassed by Reddit users after she tried to enact new anti-harassment policies, also said the company needed to take stronger action.

Additional reporting by agencies

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