‘The front page of the internet’ has removed five subreddits – but some people want their freedom of speech back
If you want to take pictures of overweight people and mock them with your mates online, then Reddit might no longer the place for you. The self-appointed "front page of the internet" has cleaned up its act and banned five subreddits that go against its community standards, including r/shitn*ggerssay, r/transfags and r/neofag. By far the most popular one of the five was r/fatpeoplehate with more than 150,000 subscribers.
r/fatpeoplehate was a place where Reddit users could post pictures of people they deemed fat so everyone could take the piss out of them; a place for small-time bullies and wannabe trolls to make fun of strangers' bodies. Is this really a great loss to our world?
We live in a climate of people demanding their "right to free speech" even if what you're saying is total shit. People are upset about the fact that Reddit's moderators have decided to enforce decent behaviour on the site, with the Independent reporting that "it could be the beginning of the end of reddit", and outraged Reddit users sending abusive messages to the chief executive, Ellen Pao.
I guess this is censorship, but for too long Reddit has upheld different standards to other major social networks. If you send discriminatory or abusive messages to or about other people on any other major site, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, you are sanctioned, although of course people slip through the net.
Executives of these sites have perhaps realised that it's more important to make their products accessible for all and stop them becoming platforms for bullying, than it is to protect the "freedom of speech" of losers who want to use that vague right just to make fun of someone for "being fat".
Reddit is a huge international platform, with millions of users and countless more "lurkers". The new community rules have been a long time coming, as it's no longer a niche site with a few closely-knit members that share the same "sense of humour". It's grown beyond that.
It's hard to see that Reddit is taking away freedom, but easy to argue that if you're a person who finds your a photo of your body being openly mocked by strangers on the internet, that your freedom is immediately compromised.
After unprecendented expansion, Reddit is in the midst of trying to find its moral compass. The people who used the banned subreddits have threatened to leave the site for good – but we'd wager that their posts not being around anymore isn't really going to tarnish internet experience for many.
What do you think? Necessary step or needless restriction?