Reddit is banning r/The_Donald along with almost 2,000 other online communities after updating its content policy to crack down harder on hate speech, the company announced on Monday.
In a blog post explaining the company’s new rules, CEO Steve Huffman said users of the r/The_Donald subreddit had violated the site’s policies for years.
“The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations,” Huffman said.
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In the same way, r/ChapoTrapHouse, a spinoff of the left-wing podcast, was also hosting content in violation of the site’s rules, the chief executive said.
The decision to ban these communities comes as Silicon Valley is facing a major reckoning — in part sparked by ongoing nationwide protests over systemic racism — over its role in facilitating the spread of hate speech and disinformation.
Under pressure as more than 90 brands halted their advertising on the platform, Facebook announced on Friday that it would institute stronger rules barring hate speech in ads and add warning labels to politicians’ statements that break its rules. Twitter has begun to put warning labels on President Trump’s tweets that are in violation of its policies. And the live-streaming platform Twitch has temporarily banned Trump over “hateful conduct.”
“Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more,” Huffman said, adding that views “across the political spectrum” are permitted as long as people work within the platform’s policies in good faith.
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“I have to admit that I’ve struggled with balancing my values as an American, and around free speech and free expression, with my values and the company’s values around common human decency,” Huffman said in a call with reporters, per The Verge.
Reddit has over 430 million average active monthly users, more than 130,000 active communities and is the fifth most-visited site in the United States, according to the company.
When reached by Fox News, the Trump campaign provided the following statement:
“To hear directly from the President, people should download the Trump app and text ‘Trump’ to 88022,” said Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign.
YouTube has banned several prominent white supremacist channels, including those belonging to David Duke and Richard Spencer.
The Google-owned video platform has long been criticized by civil rights groups and technologists for not doing enough to combat hate and supremacist speech. A ProPublica investigation in early 2019 found that white supremacists and neo-Nazis were using YouTube to recruit members and spread their vile messages.
The banned channels include American Renaissance, Spencer’s National Policy Institute and that of Stefan Molyneux. The channels repeatedly violated YouTube’s policies by alleging that members of protected groups were inferior. These come alongside other violations that led to YouTube taking action.
“We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies,” a YouTube spokesperson told Fox News via email. “After updating our guidelines to better address supremacist content, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.”
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In June 2019, YouTube announced it would remove thousands of channels for hate speech violations. It began to specifically prohibit “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.”
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In the first quarter of this year, YouTube removed over 100,000 videos and 100 million comments for violating its hate and harassment policies.
Several of the people who have been banned took to Twitter to decry the latest decision from YouTube.
The popular video platform’s decision comes on the same week that Twitch temporarily banned President Trump over hate speech violations and Reddit banned almost 2,000 communities, including “TheDonald,” also for violating its hate speech rules.
Boston has banned police from using facial recognition technology, becoming the second-largest U.S. community to do so.
The city council unanimously voted on Wednesday to ban the controversial technology’s use and prohibit any city official from obtaining facial surveillance by asking for it via third parties.
“It has an obvious racial bias and that’s dangerous,” Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who sponsored the bill, said ahead of the hearing, per WBUR. “But it also has sort of a chilling effect on civil liberties. And so, in a time where we’re seeing so much direct action in the form of marches and protests for rights, any kind of surveillance technology that could be used to essentially chill free speech or … more or less monitor activism or activists is dangerous.”
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The measure, which will head to Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh’s desk with a veto-proof majority, follows similar bans that have been implmented in Brookline, Somerville and Cambridge, as well as several cities on the West Coast.
Arroyo noted the technology has been found to be biased and inaccurate for people of color. A study at MIT found that for darker-skinned women, facial recognition programs had an error rate of up to 35 percent.
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“We’re working to end systemic racism,” Councilor Michelle Wu, who also sponsored the bill, said prior to the vote. “So ending the … over-surveillance of communities of color needs to be a part of that, and we’re just truly standing with the values that public safety and public health must be grounded in trust.”
The move comes amid nationwide protests over systemic racism and police brutality, and not long after technology companies including IBM, Microsoft and Amazon either decided to halt their facial recognition sales to police or completely abandon the sector.
A number of civil liberties and racial justice advocates have long contended that facial recognition technology is dangerous and should be banned completely.