Popular social-networking and news site Reddit is adopting a new anti harassment policy, after a company survey found that some users shied away from the site and wouldn’t recommend it to other people because of abusive posts and content.
The new policy, announced in a company blog post Thursday, prohibits “attacks and harassment of individuals through Reddit” and follows a 15,000-user survey conducted by the site last month. That study found that negative comments appended to posts “have made people uncomfortable contributing” to the site and that the No. 1 reason users don’t recommend Reddit is because “they want to avoid exposing friends to hate and offensive content.”
“The community wants these improvements,” Reddit’s interim CEO, Ellen Pao, said in a separate statement. “We believe less harassment means more participation, leading to more free expression, better conversations and better communities.”
Founded in 2005, Reddit, which had nearly 170 million visitors to its site last month, has long seen itself as a venue where people could share whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. That emphasis on freedom of expression has attracted people who’ve weighed in on everything from politics to food to sports. The site has more than 9,000 active communities, called subreddits, where participants can discuss topics and share content.
Reddit isn’t alone in evolving its policies to deal with disturbing and abusive content. Many of the world’s largest social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, are fighting to eliminate hate-filled messages and other disturbing posts on their pages. In March, Twitter clamped down on revenge pornand added a tool designed to make it easier to report harassment. That same month, Facebook updated its community standards to provide more guidance on policies related to bullying, harassment, hate speech and graphic content, among other things. It’s all part of a growing effort to police the wild frontier that is the Internet.