The so-called alt-right has lost one of its prominent online gathering spaces after Reddit banned a subreddit dedicated to the group, which is characterized by white nationalist, anti-Semitic and misogynist viewpoints.
The “/r/altright” community was well known on Reddit and around the web for the derogatory nature of its conversations. If you visit what used to be the “/r/altright” community’s page, the message that fills the screen says: “This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information.”
We reached out to Reddit for more details. Their statement notes:
Reddit is the proud home to some of the most authentic conversations online. We strive to be a welcoming, open platform for all by trusting our users to maintain an environment that cultivates genuine conversation and adheres to our content policy.We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting of personal information can get users banned from Reddit and we ask our communities not to post content that harasses or invites harassment. We have banned r/altright due to repeated violations of the terms of our content policy. There is no single solution to these issues and we are actively engaging with the Reddit community to improve everyone’s experience.
Fellow Redditors have been trying to figure out what exactly happened. Rumors in other Reddit communities are suggesting that participants in “/r/altright” were posting links on a site called WeSearchr, a “marketplace for information” that allows users to give money toward “bounties.” They define a “bounty” as “a request for the publication of specific information that is of journalistic value.”
Currently, there are bounties set up for finding the person who punched white nationalist Richard Spencer right after President Donald Trump’s inauguration (which essentially facilitates doxxing) and another that wants to “sue Twitter.”
As stated in their statement to The Huffington Post, Reddit has rules against revealing anyone’s private personal information, and sharing on WeSearchr would violate those terms.
Gizmodo spoke to a former moderator on /r/altright who posited that Reddit typically doesn’t “allow these types of right-wing groups to get much bigger than 20,000 subscribers.” But considering other communities with similar belief systems have well over that number, that may not explain in its entirety why Reddit shut it down.
The ban of this community comes just after Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian published a letter on the site that included the story of his family’s immigrant background and his thoughts on Trump’s executive order on Muslims and refugees.
“President Trump’s recent executive order is not only potentially unconstitutional, but deeply un-American,” Ohanian wrote.
“We are a nation of immigrants, after all. In the tech world, we often talk about a startup’s “unfair advantage” that allows it to beat competitors,” he continued. “Welcoming immigrants and refugees has been our country’s unfair advantage, and coming from an immigrant family has been mine as an entrepreneur.”
It’s not the first time Reddit has taken a stand against what its users are doing in their respective communities.
In November, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman was embroiled in controversy when he modified posts from Trump supporters to spite them for the vitriol they were spewing at him on “/r/The_Donald” community. “/r/The_Donald,” which helped propogate the now-infamous “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, is still up and running, though users are fearful that they too will be shut down.
In 2015, Reddit banned a community dedicated to hating overweight people called r/fatpeoplehate, and another called r/Rapingwomen.
In any case, RIP /r/altright, most of us won’t miss you.