Facebook has since come under increasing fire for its stance. Over the past few weeks, many large advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Verizon, Levi Strauss and Unilever, have said that they plan to pause advertising on the social network because they were unhappy with its handling of hate speech and misinformation.
Reddit, which was founded 15 years ago and has more than 430 million regular users, has long been one corner of the internet that was willing to host all kinds of communities. No subject — whether it was video games or makeup or power-washing driveways — was too small to discuss. People could simply sign up, browse the site anonymously and participate in any of the 130,000 active subreddits.
Yet that freewheeling position led to many issues of toxic speech and objectionable content across the site, for which Reddit has consistently faced criticism. In the past, the company hosted forums that promoted racism against black people and openly sexualized underage children, all in the name of free speech.
That has haltingly changed over time. In 2015, Reddit introduced anti-harassment policies. Later that year, it banned several subreddits that targeted black or obese people. In 2016, it rolled out additional anti-harassment measures and tools. It also took down forums dedicated to openly buying and selling drugs.
But the company’s executives have struggled in particular with how to handle “The_Donald” and its noxious content. Reddit said people in “The_Donald” consistently posted racist and vulgar messages that incited harassment and targeted people of different religious and ethnic groups on and off its site.
“The_Donald” has also heavily trafficked in conspiracy theories, including spreading the debunked “PizzaGate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton and top Democrats were falsely accused of running a child sex trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington.
Reddit said that as of Monday, it was introducing eight rules that laid out the terms people must abide by to use the site. Those include prohibiting targeted harassment, revealing the identities of others, posting sexually exploitative content related to underage children, or trafficking in illegal substances or other illicit transactions.