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Reddit To Crack Down On Abuse By Punishing Hundreds of 'Toxic Users' (reuters.com) 233

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Social media website Reddit, known for its commitment to free speech, will crack down on online harassment by banning or suspending users who target others, starting with those who have directed abuse at Chief Executive Steve Huffman. Huffman said in an interview with Reuters that Reddit's content policy prohibits harassment, but that it had not been adequately enforced. "Personal message harassment is the most cut and dry," he said. "Right now we are in an interesting position where my inbox is full of them, it's easy to start with me." As well as combing through Huffman's inbox, Reddit will monitor user reports, add greater filtering capacity, and take a more proactive role in policing its platform rather than relying on community moderators. Reddit said it had identified hundreds of the "most toxic users" and will warn, ban or suspend them. It also plans to increase staff on its "trust and safety" team. On Reddit, a channel supporting the U.S. Republican party's presidential candidate Donald Trump, called r/The_Donald, featured racist and misogynistic comments, fake news and conspiracy theories about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, along with more mainstream expressions of support for Trump. Many of those supporting Trump were very active, voting up the r/The_Donald conversations so that they became prominent across Reddit, which is the 7th-most-visited U.S. internet site, according to web data firm Alexa. Last week, Reddit banned Pizzagate, a community devoted to a conspiracy theory, with no evidence to back it up, that links Clinton to a pedophile ring at a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, after it posted personal information in violation of Reddit policy. Huffman then used his administrative privileges to redirect abuse he was receiving on a thread on r/The_Donald to the community's moderators -- making it look as if it was intended for them. Huffman said it was a prank, and that many Reddit users, including some Trump supporters, told him they thought it was funny, but it inflamed the situation.
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Reddit To Crack Down On Abuse By Punishing Hundreds of 'Toxic Users'

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  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @07:02PM (#53397191)

    It was fun for a while, and now this crap starts.

    Funny thing is... it was the CEO who started it all!

    • Nothing new here, time for a new service to take over and replace them. Not that I will miss them or was ever into Reddit, but I know others were.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is what happens when the host of a website abdicates responsibility for moderation of content to its users. The system gets gamed by special interest groups and political interests. Slashdot is a classic example of it, it only survives because it is not mainstream, though it has been on a steady decline because of this.

        The website that will succeed (in both sensed of the word) will be one that has the balls to take responsibility for their content and not leave it to users to moderate it. It will remov

        • Re:It's a theme (Score:5, Interesting)

          by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @07:42PM (#53397517)

          The theme I'm referring to has nothing to do with special interests using the site, but rather a specific mindset taking control of a site. Reddit became popular because it was a free speech zone, but I'd never claim it was "main stream" any more than Slashdot is/was. Free speech is a dangerous thing to people in power. Facebook gets tons of free advertising from broadcast media because they do not support free speech. Timelines is the only thing you need to see to understand that they are more worried about propaganda than free speech.

          I don't know reddit and don't know if there is pressure for them to stifle speech or if the management was really against it from the start, but felt it was tolerable venting as long as it stayed away from main stream.

          • by Luthair ( 847766 )
            It didn't become popular because of free speech, it became popular as a centralized provider of free forums that any idiot could find, use and create.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Spez gets regular death threats, tags, general harassment from t_d users.

      Spez harmlessly trolls a few t_d users that tagged him.

      T_d users lose their collective shit and throw professional soccer player level of fake sissy outrage.

      I've been on the internet since the mid 90s and I've never seen anything quite like like t_d and it's ilk. It's a den of manic (Literal textbook mania) mixed with a personalty cult. The tone of the posts jump from genuinely hopeful to batshit crazy to disturbingly sociopathic and

      • Death threats? Can you substantiate that one? Preferably by pointing to police reports?

        I don't see it mentioned here [sli.mg] where it would've been relevant, it just says "outright threatened" and apparently some loser keyed his car, though it's not clear if that was just something random.

      • R/the_donald is so utterly bizarre. I tried reading some threads before the election, and it was just weird. Completely mindless "RAH RAH DONALD DONALD" posts on top of mudslinging, threats, conspiracy theories, just all over the place. Utterly devoted "true believers" trying to see who can yell the loudest, working themselves up into a mad frenzy in every thread, just short 5-6 word comments, verging on incomprehensible spam.

        It was a frankly rather frightening look into the minds of madmen.

        In comparison, t

        • Exactly. And this shows just how far gone this country is. About half the population is a bunch of uneducated conspiracy-theory-believing wackos. And the other half are better educated and are able to rationalize away their support for an utterly corrupt warmonger. There is no hope for us.

          • Well, you can only really infer anything about the part of the population who voted, which was less than half.

            And that's a huge problem.

      • by crtreece ( 59298 )

        Spez harmlessly trolls a few t_d users

        Spez did something that goes way beyond simple trolling. He showed that site admins can and will modify user content. Through its history, admin have claimed that they could/would not do this. Sure, any junior db or system admin knows that modifying a database entry is a basic function of that type of system, but the claim that they would not and have not done that has now been admitted to be false.

        Now, the validity of every post on the site, past, present, and future, is questionable. Maybe it was a

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You said that last time. Ellen Pao was ruining it, Anita Sarkeesian had taken over to censor and feminise it, everyone was leaving for Voat and taking their fat shaming with them...

      Yet somehow it's still going and the alternatives are floundering.

      • by geek ( 5680 )

        Yet somehow it's still going and the alternatives are floundering.

        Voat.co is doing so well they've had to upgrade their servers like 4 times. They are now asking for another round of donations thanks to the enormouse influx of Reddit users.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Exactly. They can't even cover their running costs with VC funding or advertising. That's how well they are doing, i.e. about as well as 8chan which operates on the same model.

          The fact that they can get by on donations should give you a hint about how insignificantly tiny they are compared to Reddit.

      • Voat is getting so much traffic the servers keep crumbling under the load.

    • Oh, no, Reddit is just another symptom of a larger problem: The Internet is on the way out. What with Trump appointing people to key positions who will kill Net Neutrality [slashdot.org] and the ever-growing surveillance [slashdot.org] of private citizens [slashdot.org], the Internet is rapidly becoming somewhere you really don't want to be, unless you don't care about your entire online life being exposed to governments and corporations. That, plus how rampant hacking on a grand scale is happening more and more often, especially including your smartp [slashdot.org]
    • Reddit generates tons of traffic and needs to be profitable. Changes needed to be made to attract advertisers. They picked a CEO to take the heat while the changes were implemented. It worked as planned.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @07:05PM (#53397211)

    We have identified hundreds of the most toxic users and are taking action against them, ranging from warnings to timeouts to permanent bans.

    Unless /u/spez is on that list of toxic users, the list is meaningless.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @07:24PM (#53397341)

    ... I was a member of a local forum (and I'm all for 'em) and I discovered, by accident, that it was "user-moderated."

    If a comment was reported more than three times, the board automatically removed it.

    They relied on cookies to determine that I had already reported it so I searched for that cookie.

    I'd report a post and then delete that particular cookie and then report it again, about seven times.

    The only administrator, a local TV personality (and nice guy) had to field questions about censorship and I'd salvo-report his comments.

    Six months after the forum was replaced by Facebook, I called him and told him what I did.

    He laughed about it.

    But we both agreed I was a shithead.

  • will walk to other sites that will welcome them.
    Who wants be stay behind on the safe space sites? No fun, no jokes, nothing new, just boring SJW mod approved topics?
    Freedom of speech and freedom after speech sells globally and is the fun that attracts users. The freedom to read a comment day, weeks, years later is also a great selling point.
    What the SJW do on some sites will be great free branding for all sites that support freedom of speech.
    • Sounds like that's fine with Reddit. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      • While I am not sure what they will do, I am going to guess that the 80/20 rule in some form will be applied. IE: those that really were on the extreme of the review will get removed. maybe reddit won't look the same, but it might become something different and just as interesting.

        • That still kills the mood for participating. If you have to fret that your account can be removed even if you posted in good faith because someone overzealous may consider it out of bounds, you may decide it's not worth wasting time. And then all that's left is whack-a-moled trolls and timid or self-censoring posters. Hardly a recipe for something interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by firewrought ( 36952 )
      Funny... /r/The_Donald was the most stringently run safe space I've ever seen, and it certainly wasn't being run by SJW's.
    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      They're welcome to go. So are you! The truth is that the vast silent majority still hate trolls far more than they hate speech. As usual a knee-jerk'd reaction from a person who's mental picture of censorship can only be two bars: 0 (regulated kindergarden) and 99 (free and open of all -- except those pond scum fucking spammers) nay? If you wanted to actually convince people of this somehow horrible policy change, try finding real examples of censored people/material that people will really really want to s

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Dunno if you've seen the donald - the sub in question is pretty much a safe space for bigots - anything not pro-trump is immediately banned
  • Reddit has one of the most open membership processes there is, with no email address or similar required. Throwaway accounts are extremely common. The posting history of an account doesn't reflect the visibility of its comments - while there's "karma", it doesn't work the same way as with Slashdot where postings from high karma users are given more visibility.

    So banning users, however toxic, is going to be relatively pointless. At best, it means someone can't prove they're the same person as, say, the or

  • Trust & Safety (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @07:56PM (#53397637)

    Any service, network, app, platform, etc. with a "Trust and Safety Council" is useless.

  • As a reader of various online forums, I would like a community where I can read a broad spectrum of polite, well-thought out responses to current events. Leading up to the election, I wanted to hear from the Trump supporter, the Hillary supporter, and even the Sanders/Johnson/Stein supporters.

    What I don't want is (1) spam, (2) astroturfing, (3) straight-up lying ["fake news"], (4) personal attacks, (5) abusive language, (6) people who can't follow context, and (7) simplistic/repetitive comments that don'

    • As a reader of various online forums, I would like a community where I can read a broad spectrum of polite, well-thought out responses to current events.

      And I would like a pony and a blowjob (unrelated to the pony).

      What I don't want is (1) spam, (2) astroturfing, (3) straight-up lying ["fake news"], (4) personal attacks, (5) abusive language, (6) people who can't follow context, and (7) simplistic/repetitive comments that don't add anything new.

      You must be new here, then ;) since Slashdot is (1) a spam substrate, (2) legendary for astroturfing, (3) incompetent about vetting stories even when it tries, which is almost never (4) (5) (6) (7) not even going to bother to illustrate, read literally any story's comments.

  • Reddit hasn't been known for free speech for quite some time. I've only been on it for less than two years, and in that time we saw the banning of Coontown and other offensive groups. Not that I endorse the content of those groups; but if you're going to hold yourself out as a bastion of free speech, you have to at least allow anything that's legal and AFAIK the mere existence of the offensive groups wasn't illegal.

    Aside from that, there was an alleged astro-turfing campaign sponsored by Hillary's campaig

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:59PM (#53399147)

    Steve Huffman alters people's comments that he didn't like, but says "Toxic Users" should be punished? How about firing his dishonest untrustworthy ass?

    Oh, and he's getting hate mail? oh that's so surprising.

  • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @12:19AM (#53399227) Homepage

    So let me get this straight.

    The site that proudly hosted the fappening's pics.

    The site that let a group called "coontown" run for years without any issues or concerns.

    The site that runs "Shit Reddit Says," a doxing, harassment, and bullying network that the admins openly support.

    The site that, to this day, has gigabytes of pirated music, porn, art, and software indexed on it.

    NOW has a problem with free speech, because a conservative candidate's followers organized on it and beat the political candidate their admins supported?

    All at the same time the faux-liberal, progressive news sites and other social media networks are making a push to censor any and all conservative new media outlets by calling them "fake news" and taking measures to do the same thing to conservatives using their sites?

    Forgive me if I'm a bit suspicious.

    • All at the same time the faux-liberal, progressive news sites and other social media networks are making a push to censor any and all conservative new media outlets by calling them "fake news"

      So... if the left uses their free speech in a way you don't approve of, it's censorship now?

      • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 )

        "The So tell for cognitive dissonance."

        Also, Strawman.

        No, if the Regressives were using their free speech, we wouldn't be in this mess. Instead, the Regressives decided they had perfect morality and anyone not part of their tribe was a racist / sexist / islamophobe / homophobe / etc, and more importantly, they decided shouting names at people and silencing their political opponents (and even moderates) was an appropriate substitute for debate and a good argument.

        Which led to 4 -- well, lets be honest, 8 --

  • Hundreds down, only a few more tens of millions to go!

  • The Reddit CEO edited a post on Reddit other than his own within the systems set rules. That has to be a clear violation. However he just points to another issue, the trolls, and off they go. Trey and Matt are really on top of things. Which is just amusing. I wonder if someone in the history of Reddit's employee's has done the same thing and been terminated for it. If so their HR department is probably going to have a mess on their hands.

    This guy acted like one of those board admins who can't handle w

  • "When you're CEO, they let you do it. You can just walk right up to them and edit their posts." -- /u/spez

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.