Advertisement
Tech by VICE

Reddit Quarantined r/The_Donald for ‘Threats of Violence’

Reddit placed a quarantine on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit for “threats of violence against police and public officials.” Users must now go through a warning portal before accessing the subreddit.

by Caroline Haskins
Jun 26 2019, 6:25pm

Image: Old r/The_Donald logo from Wikimedia Commons, hazard icon from Reddit. 

Reddit placed a quarantine on the massively popular pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/The_Donald for “threats of violence against police and public officials,” according to a warning portal on the subreddit. People visiting the subreddit are now warned about the quarantine, and need to click “continue” in order to access the subreddit.

“It is restricted due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of the Reddit Content Policy,” the page says. “Most recently the violations have included threats of violence against police and public officials. As a visitor or member, you can help moderators maintain the community by reporting and downvoting rule-breaking content.”

According to Reddit Help, Reddit quarantines add warning portals to subreddits, cut off revenue opportunities, remove subreddits from Reddit-curated feeds like r/Popular, remove subreddits from recommendations and search, and remove custom CSS styling. When a user clicks "Continue," the quarantine notice is displayed again at the top of the subreddit, and in the Community Details bar to the right of the screen.

The subreddit, which began as a community for Donald Trump supporters, quickly became notorious for being a space that hosted hate speech and encouraged harassment of other Reddit users.

Screenshot from r/The_Donald
Image: Screenshot from reddit.com/r/the_donald

User shadowman3001, one of the subreddit’s moderators, pinned a post to the top of the subreddit which claims that the quarantine was placed after people encouraged violence toward police officers and public officials in Oregon.

“The reason for the quarantine is that over the last few months we have observed repeated rule-breaking behavior in your community and an over-reliance on Reddit admins to manage users and remove posts that violate our content policy, including content that encourages or incites violence,” the post reads.

The post says that going forward, moderators will need to “unambiguously communicate” that violent content isn’t allowed, and that reporting violent posts is necessary.

“Following these changes, we will consider an appeal to lift the quarantine, in line with the process outlined here,” the post says.

A tweet from r/The_Donald’s Twitter account shows a list of posts that have allegedly been removed by Reddit in the past 27 days.

Several of these posts referenced planned attacks by several armed militia groups, which prompted Oregon’s state capital building to shut down last week. According to Business Insider, the militia groups wanted to protect Republicans who engaged in a walkout and didn’t show up to a vote on a carbon cap-and-trade climate change bill. r/The_Donald still has at least one public post which is flooded with hate speech about a Democratic public official in Oregon who supported the climate change bill.

"We are clear in our site-wide policies that posting content that encourages or threatens violence is not allowed on Reddit," a Reddit spokesperson said in an email. "As we have shared, we are sensitive to what could be considered political speech, however, recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy. As a result, we have actioned individual users and quarantined the subreddit."

According to Reddit’s Content Policy, the platform “tolerate the harassment of people on our site, nor do we tolerate communities dedicated to fostering harassing behavior.” However, the platform is notoriously slow to enforce these rules.

The rules for r/The_Donald claim to forbid threatening government officials. “All threats of violence, including assassination threats towards the President, his cabinet members and other officials should be reported immediately to the FBI, please include a screenshot, and an “Archived” link. We recommend Archive.is,” the subreddit rules read.

Reddit also quarantined r/NoMorals last year for reportedly posting pictures of dead children and injured or dead animals. The subreddit was later banned.

r/The_Donald has a long and toxic history rife with infighting, racism, misogyny, bigotry, and internal drama with Reddit. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, it was one of the most popular spots for supporters of Donald Trump to post memes, some of which were ultimately picked up and reshared by Trump himself.

Update: This article was updated to include comment from Reddit.