As of Wednesday around 1PM EST, Reddit appears to have suspended r/deepfakes, the subreddit dedicated to creating fake porn videos using a machine learning algorithm.
A Reddit spokesperson told Motherboard in an email:
"Reddit strives to be a welcoming, open platform for all by trusting our users to maintain an environment that cultivates genuine conversation. As of February 7, 2018, we have made two updates to our site-wide policy regarding involuntary pornography and sexual or suggestive content involving minors. These policies were previously combined in a single rule; they will now be broken out into two distinct ones. Communities focused on this content and users who post such content will be banned from the site."
Around 1PM, a Reddit administrator posted new rules on “sexual or suggestive content involving minors” and involuntary pornography. “As we have said in past communications with you all, we want to make Reddit a more welcoming environment for all users. We will continue to review and update our policies as necessary,” wrote u/landoflobsters in a thread.
Before the subreddit was removed, it was approaching 90,000 subscribers. Other subreddits that users spawned out of r/deepfakes, including r/FakeApp, r/SFWdeepfakes, and r/videofakes are still up. These are “safe for work” subreddits and don’t feature any pornography.
In the last week, Discord, Gfycat, Pornhub and Twitter have all denounced involuntary pornography, including deepfakes, and banned these videos from their platforms. Because the content was not hosted directly on Reddit—instead using hosts like Gfycat, Sendvid, and imgur to post images and gifs—some users in the subreddit thought that it wouldn’t be banned. However, members of the subreddit were already seeking and creating new homes on alternative platforms to post deepfakes and share tips.
Reddit's policy updated today led it to shut down subreddits that predate r/deepfakes, like r/CelebFakes and r/YouTubeFakes. These subreddits have for years shared Photoshopped images that pasted the face of celebrities and famous YouTubers onto porn performers.
Motherboard discovered “deepfakes,” the redditor who was the first to publicly post one of these AI-generated fake porn videos, in December. He posted his work to the subreddit r/CelebFakes. In the following weeks, fans of his creations made a dedicated r/deepfakes subreddit. This subreddit ballooned to nearly 90,000 subscribers before Reddit shut it down.
While Reddit's decision today has shut down the main gathering place of deepfake makers, it will not make this practice disappear from the web. The methods and tools for creating these videos are still easy to find, and deepfake makers have already set up shop on new Discord channels, their own dedicated websites, and other platforms.