Nobody should envy the admins of mega community site reddit. They had to make a tough decision on Sunday. Even tougher than the time they sold reddit to publishing giant Condé Nast, or its parent company, Advance Publications. This decision, not made "without careful deliberation," was the tough call to stop allowing multiple subreddits for child porn and "kid watching."
Reddit admins could have listened to Anderson Cooper. They could have listened to the large number of people within their own community. They had six years to figure it all out. Something kept staying their hand and letting the pedo-themed subreddits survive.
No more! The child porn salad days are at an end at reddit thanks to the concerted efforts of Something Awful forums members. Hours after SA member Tony Danza Claus posted a thread detailing various subreddits like (to name just a few) /r/preteen_girls, /r/truejailbait and /r/niggerjailbait, the admins at reddit threw in the towel. They responded with the following message:
At reddit we care deeply about not imposing ours or anyone elses' opinions on how people use the reddit platform. We are adamant about not limiting the ability to use the reddit platform even when we do not ourselves agree with or condone a specific use. We have very few rules here on reddit; no spamming, no cheating, no personal info, nothing illegal, and no interfering the site's functions. Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.
In the past, we have always dealt with content that might be child pornography along strict legal lines. We follow legal guidelines and reporting procedures outlined by NCMEC. We have taken all reports of illegal content seriously, and when warranted we made reports directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who works directly with the FBI. When a situation is reported to us where a child might be abused or in danger, we make that report. Beyond these clear cut cases, there is a huge area of legally grey content, and our previous policy to deal with it on a case by case basis has become unsustainable. We have changed our policy because interpreting the vague and debated legal guidelines on a case by case basis has become a massive distraction and risks reddit being pulled in to legal quagmire.
As of today, we have banned all subreddits that focus on sexualization of children. Our goal is to be fair and consistent, so if you find a subreddit we may have missed, please message the admins. If you find specific content that meets this definition please message the moderators of the subreddit, and the admins.
We understand that this might make some of you worried about the slippery slope from banning one specific type of content to banning other types of content. We're concerned about that too, and do not make this policy change lightly or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal. However, child pornography is a toxic and unique case for Internet communities, and we're protecting reddit's ability to operate by removing this threat. We remain committed to protecting reddit as an open platform.
The reaction was swift...
To their credit, many redditors were happy with the ruling. Many more stood their ground on free speech advocacy, which put them shoulder to shoulder with a rogue's gallery of redditors with long histories of discussing preteens and their smells. In addition to claiming jealousy on the part of SA (reddit is a much bigger site than SA), the forums were also accused of a conspiracy to destroy reddit (our members do not like various subreddits not related to child porn like /r/rapingwomen and /r/beatingtrannies or /r/picsofdeadkids). Neither is particularly true. SA never has and never will enjoy the level of success of reddit. It's simply impossible. Nor was there a broader conspiracy. This was always about the child porn.
Reddit isn't a community site like Something Awful or even 4chan. It's a profitable business enterprise that is a subsidiary of a much larger corporation. Celebrities go on reddit to promote their projects. Kids go on reddit. For years reddit has somehow dipped into both buckets, tacitly permitting child pornography and much more gray area material to flourish while laying claim to legitimacy as a corporate-owned media outlet.
As long as reddit closely aligns itself with absolutely uncensored free speech (and despite slippery slope claims, cracking down on child porn marks a fairly timid step away from that) reddit will continue to risk periodic outbursts as other media outlets discover their subreddits about beating up black people or the transgendered or raping women. Despite what reddit wants you to think, they are not the Internet, they are a single money-making enterprise, all the reddits under one roof, and what happens under this one roof will eventually reflect poorly on their corporate overlords.
In the meantime, best of luck to all those redditors out there who always wanted to get rid of the sexualization of children on reddit. Despite some comments by some SA members on our forums, most redditors are not pedophiles. May those redditors who spoke out against that sort of content be the voices that shape the future of reddit.
With new, rule-skirting subreddits already popping up, like /r/younbeauty and /r/CuteTeens, the admins and the people who think drooling over 10-year-olds is bad are going to have their work cut out for them.
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