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June 23, 2015

Reddit rule change: The impact

Reddit has moved the goalposts when it comes to managing their site. The so-called ‘front page of the internet’ has changed its mentality towards removing comments on its online forums, which prompted me to consider impacts this may have. Five posters, known on the forum as subreddits, had their comments removed – the first time…

Reddit has moved the goalposts when it comes to managing their site. The so-called ‘front page of the internet’ has changed its mentality towards removing comments on its online forums, which prompted me to consider impacts this may have.

Five posters, known on the forum as subreddits, had their comments removed – the first time this has happened on their site since it was established just over a decade ago.

Announcement

RedditAccording to the Washington Post, over 172 million people use Reddit each month and the social media site is well-known for its ‘anything goes’ strategy. The comments which were removed involve transphobia, racism, body shaming and abuse of users on another popular discussion forum, NeoGAF. But since the decision, administrators have come under fire from other users.

Users commented that the ban was “horrible”, “not well thought out” and a “bad business decision”. Others argued that it was better to keep a “bigoted community” in a separate subreddit, because shutting that down would mean the abuse would then spill over into other forums.

Policy

Reddit maintain that they wanted as “little involvement as possible” in overseeing comments on the site. However, they said that they would intervene when privacy and free expression was threatened, or if people suffered abuse – as it was deemed in this case. Safety is of course the main aim for online forums and general online browsing, and it’s believed that these subreddits had been warned before for their behaviour – prompting Reddit operators to act in this instance.

Backlash

The reaction to the bans has been one of outrage, with users split over whether it was a good decision. Some are angered by a seeming lack of transparency on the forum, stating the move as an infringement of free speech.

In response, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said the bans are down to harassing behaviour, not their content. She said: “We’re banning behaviour, not ideas. While we don’t agree with the content of the subreddit, we don’t have reports of it harassing individuals.

“We allow a lot of content we don’t agree with, we just want to make sure our platform makes everyone comfortable sharing their ideas, not just a few people. We believe less harassment means more ideas and more free expression, because people won’t be afraid to participate.”

Online Reputation

It’s often very difficult to monitor the content of a forum, which can be detrimental to your company’s reputation if it ranks in Google. However, if something breaches either the site or Google’s terms and conditions, it can be removed. If someone makes a comment which breaches the UK Defamation Act 2013 then this can be taken from the site. Personal information may also not be disclosed online without permission, so if you feel that your privacy has been violated, then it is worth involving a governing body.

You can find out more by downloading Igniyte’s free Guide to Building Your Company Reputation Online or contact me on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email simon@igniyte.co.uk. All enquiries are dealt with in confidence

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