[lg policy] Reddit continues to protect racist language in favor of free speech

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Apr 12 10:32:44 EDT 2018

 Reddit continues to protect racist language in favor of free speech [image:
Reddit App] Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

Reddit’s steadfast commitment to free speech is landing the company in hot
water once again. A Reddit
user questioned the site’s policies on whether posts containing racism and
racial slurs violate Reddit’s terms, and CEO Steve Huffman revealed that
said speech are permissible on the site, according to Gizmodo

“On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior
from beliefs,” Huffman clarified. “This means on Reddit there will be
people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so.”

It’s unclear if Huffman’s comments are representative of Reddit’s company
policy, but protection of hate speech can — and do — lead to online
harassment and cyberbullying
A recent study from Pew revealed that as many as 40 percent of Americans
have experienced some form of harassment online.

And even if hate speech may still be protected content on Reddit, Huffman
was quick to point out that any threat of violence is not tolerated on the
site. “When users actions conflict with our own content policies, we take
action,” he said. This distinction is consistent with Reddit’s prior
policies for enforcement. Previously, Reddit was under fire when neo-Nazis
used the site to incite violence. This prompted Reddit to ban affected
community pages and clarify its terms to prohibit violence late last year.

“Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages,
glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an
individual or a group of people; likewise we will also take action against
content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals,” the updated
terms read, noting that “context is key.”

At the time, spokeswoman Anna Soellner told The New York Times
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/us/reddit-violence-policy.html> that
Reddit strives “to be a welcoming, open platform for all by trusting our
users to maintain an environment that cultivates genuine conversation.

Reddit’s position on free speech — and its refusal to commit to an outright
ban of hate speech — makes it one of the lone online communities
<https://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/what-is-reddit/> in the digital
age. Many of its peers, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram,
YouTube, Microsoft, Twitch, Playstation, Xbox Live, Steam, and Amazon — all
have some policies prohibiting hate speech. Outside of hate speech, Reddit
has had to make recent changes to adapt and grow with the internet,
including removing communities that focus on drug use, sex work
and illegal activities
Editors' Recommendations

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   - Twitch will punish its users for bad behavior on other platforms
   - Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and
   zany subs <https://www.digitaltrends.com/web/best-subreddits/>


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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