Reddit to crack down on objectionable content

Site attempts to restore calm after rocky weeks

Reddit mascot

A Reddit mascot at the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

Credit: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Reddit, the self-appointed "front page of the Internet" and one of the Web's most popular sites, is planning to crack down on objectionable content -- at least in public areas of the site.

The new policies, which don't appear to be set in stone yet, come in response to a rocky couple of weeks for the famously free-wheeling website that were sparked by the dismissal of a staffer. The firing caused long simmering dissatisfaction by the site's moderators over Reddit's management to boil over and culminated in the resignation of CEO Ellen Pao last week.

Writing in Thursday's Washington Post, Pao called the response to decisions she had made at Reddit "one of the largest trolling attacks in history." In the wake of bans on revenge porn and harassment of individuals, Pao said she and colleagues were "targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post my private information online and death threats."

While Reddit's board accepted her resignation, it appears the treatment of Pao prompted co-founder Steve Huffman, who took over as CEO, to decide the site needs a few ground rules.

On Thursday, writing on Reddit, he said the site is considering new restrictions on what people can say in the public parts of Reddit.

Those restrictions would include spam; anything that is illegal (although he clarified discussion of something illegal would not be banned); publication of a person's private and confidential information; anything that incites harm or violence against an individual or group of people; anything that harasses, bullies, or abuses an individual or group of people; and sexually suggestive content featuring minors.

"We've spent the last few days here discussing and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don't want to associate with the business, but gives individuals freedom to consume it if they choose," said Huffman. "This is what we will try, and if the hateful users continue to spill out into mainstream reddit, we will try more aggressive approaches."

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
Windows 10 annoyances and solutions
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.