Social media companies have consistently been under fire over the past three years for allowing President Donald Trump and his supporters to use their platform to promote hate speech, even though hate speech supposedly violates their terms of service. Now, both Reddit and Twitch have begun to crack down on hateful content spread by the president and his supporters.
The New York Times reports that Reddit has banned approximately 2,000 subreddits as part of its crackdown on hate speech on the platform. One of the most popular subreddits, “The_Donald,” was among those purged from the site on Monday. The community of almost 790,000 members was devoted to sharing memes and videos that were supportive of the president, but which often violated the site’s rules banning harassment and hate speech. “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with the Times.
Naturally, Republican lawmakers, who often claim that social media sites are biased against conservatives, have already spoken out against the decision. “R/The_Donald played an outsized role in helping Trump win in the 2016 election. With 2020 fast approaching, they just can’t help themselves. Reddit has long targeted r/the_Donald for years— harshly enforcing its content policy there while ignoring more egregious rule-breaking in left-wing communities. It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind) said in a statement to Axios. Banks’ assessment doesn’t exactly square with the fact that Reddit also banned r/ChapoTrapHouse, a subreddit of about 160,000 members that was devoted to the leftist podcast of the same name.
From the Times:
Reddit said people in “The_Donald” consistently posted racist and vulgar messages that incited harassment and targeted people of different religious and ethnic groups on and off its site.
“The_Donald” has also heavily trafficked in conspiracy theories, including spreading the debunked “PizzaGate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton and top Democrats were falsely accused of running a child sex trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington.
Reddit said that as of Monday, it was introducing eight rules that laid out the terms people must abide by to use the site. Those include prohibiting targeted harassment, revealing the identities of others, posting sexually exploitative content related to underage children, or trafficking in illegal substances or other illicit transactions.
While the site had already banned many of these behaviors, the latest changes take a harder line on speech that “promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability.”
According to AJC, the live streaming service Twitch has issued a temporary ban on the president’s account. The account was banned due in part to a rebroadcast of Trump’s 2015 presidential announcement in which he called Mexicans rapists as well as for comments he made during his recent rally in Tulsa, Okla. “Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch. In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream.”
I was today-years-old when I learned the president was on Twitch. Apparently, this account was launched in October and would broadcast Trump rallies and events. No word yet on if Trump and Vice President Mike Pence intend to run some duo matches in Call of Duty: Warzone in the lead up to the 2020 election.
“Like anyone else, politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content, and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules,” a spokesperson for Twitch told the Verge.
These actions come as multiple corporations have announced their intention to withdraw their advertising spending from Facebook due to its lax policies around hate speech and misinformation. Twitter, which seems to be the president’s preferred platform, has taken to fact-checking multiple Trump tweets and flagging them as misinformation.
Turns out, all it took was the deaths of multiple Black men and women and a month of protests to get these companies to finally enforce their own policies. Who knew.