Questionable Images Of Children No Longer Allowed On Reddit
Admitting that its previous policy had “become unsustainable,” social news site Reddit announced today that it would ban all subreddits that focus on the sexualization of children, after years of dealing with child pornography on a case-by-case basis, reports Steven Musil for CNET.
Previously Reddit did not expressly ban or prohibit its users from posting “suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.” The site instead relied on a let-the-users-decide and self-police approach, but recently decided to bow to corporate and media pressure, and not least of all, the call of its own members to do something.
Reddit released a statement yesterday saying, in part, “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.”
Site administrators closed the doors on a “Jailbait” section last October after explicit images of a 14-year-old girl were posted to the user-created and moderated section. The decision to ban sections that focus on child sexuality wasn’t an easy one, administrators said, adding that child pornography is “toxic” to internet communities.
“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,” the site’s statement said. “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.”
According to Alexa.com, Reddit ranks higher in US traffic than the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, among others, so the site is not just some seedy site that caters to creeps.
In September of last year, CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported unflatteringly on Reddit and child pornography. Included in Cooper’s report was the statement from Reddit general manager Erik Martin, “We’re a free speech site and the cost of that is there’s offensive stuff on there…”
“Once we start taking down some things we find offensive, then we’re no longer a free speech site and no longer a platform for everyone. We’re exerting editorial control and that’s not what we are.”
In response to Cooper, one of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s defenses of Reddit’s content, specifically the morally questionable kind, is that Reddit “doesn’t host” the material, that the website is merely a repository of links.
No matter what one may feel about that as a defense, writes Brett Smiley for NY Magazine, the fact that such activity was allowed became a liability for Reddit or at least became a standard that wasn’t worth maintaining.
The administrators included this telling line in their statement. “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.”
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