Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Some of Reddit’s most frequented and active subreddit communities are participating in a collective action this week to protest the platform’s hate speech policies and the current police brutality and racism crisis gripping the US.
The decision follows harsh criticism from former CEO Ellen Pao, who said on Twitter earlier this week that the company “monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.” She also said Reddit should have long ago banned r/The_Donald, the controversial pro-Trump subreddit it quarantined last year for repeatedly violating its rules around hate speech and violent rhetoric.
Pao was specifically responding to a post current CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman posted on Monday, in which he said the Reddit community does “not tolerate hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear.”
I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long https://t.co/VN5XCiYp5g
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) June 2, 2020
Protest actions include moderators taking popular subreddits private and banning the publishing of new posts for either a full day or for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd, the Minnesota black man who was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer last week.
“The AskReddit moderators have decided to disable posting for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the time George Floyd was held down by police — and we will lock comments on front page posts,” reads a moderator note posted in r/AskReddit. “Our hope is that people reading this will take a moment to pause and reflect on what can be done to improve the world.”
Floyd’s death has sparked outrage worldwide and led to large-scale demonstrations in every US state and other cities overseas. The violent police and military response has in turn escalated the situation into a national crisis.
Some subreddits participating include r/AskReddit, r/NFL, and r/EDM, among others. It is unclear how long the subreddits will remain private or prohibit new posts.
“Reddit has harbored racists as policy for years /u/spez,” reads the note posted by the moderators of r/NFL, which went private this week. The message is directed at Huffman, who goes by the Reddit handle spez. “It has led to battling racism constantly, increased by the kneeling that encompassed Black Lives Matter’s message.”
The r/NFL mods are specifically requesting Reddit implement a policy against bigotry and that it actively remove “heavy participants in hate subreddits through their main account and alts.” If the company won’t comply, the moderators say they “call for the resignation of Reddit leadership.”