A small portion of Reddit's members are revolting against the site's decision to delete a series of subreddits dedicated to shaming fat people and other marginalized groups. Their cries are falling upon deaf ears, however—Reddit says it has no plans to change any of its enforcement actions.
Wednesday, Reddit banned r/fatpeopleshame, a subreddit dedicated to harassing and otherwise making fun of obese people, along with four other subreddits that harassed LGBT and black people.
Several thousand Redditors have created dozens of new, awful subreddits and upvoted posts of fat people, swastikas, and hate aimed at Reddit CEO Ellen Pao as a (gross) form of protest against what they see as censorship.
"If the new subreddits violate the policy, they will be dealt with"
In response, Reddit has banned at least 39 additional subreddits, with creative names such as "fatpeopleh8," "fatpeoplehate10," "fatpeoplehate301," "DownWithFatties," and "obesetown." Subreddits such "EllenPaoIsABigCunt," "OverweightAwareness," and "FatPeopleHate26" persist, for now. Reddit says that the bans will continue.
"If the new subreddits violate the policy, they will be dealt with," a Reddit spokesperson told Motherboard. "Reddit is working to deal with this as best as possible given their limited resources."
The protests have spilled outside of Reddit—some users have gone to a Reddit clone called Voat.co, a "censorship free" site that has billed itself as a safe haven for people who don't want to deal with "social justice warriors" who want to make Reddit a safer space for everyone.
Meanwhile, roughly 7,000 people have signed a grammatically dubious petition to "remove Ellen Pao from her job as Reddit CEO."
Experts say that, whether or not this eventually dies down, Reddit is sending the right message with the bans.
"This is a good move. It's perhaps not a fully (or very, or remotely, take your most cynical pick) enforceable move, but enforceability isn't (necessarily) what makes a move good. What makes a move good is the attempt to do good, to have a positive impact on the site's users and online discourse generally," Whitney Phillips, a professor at Humboldt State University who researches online trolling told me Wednesday. "Signaling a commitment to a robust sort of free speech, one that actually values democratic participation, is a hell of a lot better start than no start at all."
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