Just a few days after getting caught editing user comments, the CEO of Reddit, Steve Huffman, is threatening to ban 100's of the site's "most toxic users," most of whom are Trump supporters from the popular r/The_Donald subreddit thread. Just so we're clear, Huffman pissed off a bunch of users by edited their comments without their consent, was forced to apologize publicly, got a lot of blowback for his ridiculous behavior and is now banning users who called him out? According to Yahoo News, that sums it up fairly accurately.
Social media website Reddit Inc, known for its commitment to free speech, will crack down on online harassment by banning or suspending users who target others, starting with those who have directed abuse at Chief Executive Steve Huffman.
Huffman said in an interview with Reuters that Reddit's content policy prohibits harassment, but that it had not been adequately enforced.
"Personal message harassment is the most cut and dry," he said. "Right now we are in an interesting position where my inbox is full of them, it's easy to start with me."
As well as combing through Huffman's inbox, Reddit will monitor user reports, add greater filtering capacity, and take a more proactive role in policing its platform rather than relying on community moderators.
Of course, this all comes just a couple days after Huffman used his administrative privileges to redirect abuse he was receiving on a thread on r/The_Donald to the community's moderators - making it look as if it was intended for them. Huffman has subsequently said it was all an innocent "prank," though the apology he posted last week seemed to indicated it was more akin to a nervous breakdown.
Huffman offered the following apology admitting that he "messed with the "fuck u/spez" comments" and that "as the CEO, I shouldn't play such games."
Huffman notes that, in the past, Reddit relied on community moderators to enforce site rules but Trump supporters are apparently just too unruly.
In the past, Reddit has worked with moderators of communities to try to enforce its rules.
With r/The_Donald in particular, "we haven't found that to be particularly effective. We might see flashes of success, but things kind of revert," Huffman said.
Under its new strategy, Reddit will take a more active role in dealing with troublemakers, who Huffman said were an "infinitesimal" portion of Reddit's 250 million monthly visitors.
And while he insists the move to ban certain users isn't political, Huffman admits that the "first wave of bans will likely be skewed to the r/The_Donald community."
He stressed that the move was not political.
"We don't want to be censoring political beliefs, but then they do misbehave," he said. "That's why we have worked so closely with the r/The_Donald community. We tell them: don't force us to ban you."
The first wave of bans will likely be skewed to the r/The_Donald community because "that is a catalyst for a lot of this right now. That community is stirred up," Huffman said.
In a draft of a blog post to be published on Wednesday, Huffman said he had been asked by many Reddit users "to ban r/The_Donald outright, but he had rejected that idea, because "if there is anything about this election that we have learned, it is that there are communities that feel alienated and just want to be heard, and Reddit has always been a place where those voices can be heard."
Since Huffman suddenly seems quite concerned with enforcing Reddit's harassment rules in a fair and non-partisan way, we're curious whether Reddit also has rules against soliciting advice on how to violate the Federal Records Act and Congressional subpoenas? If so, we'd suggest he take a look back through Paul Combetta's history.