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Reddit bans Nazi, far-right forums in crackdown against inciting violence

October 26, 2017

Reddit has purged several forums dedicated to racist topics including Nazism and white supremacy from one of the internet’s most popular sites after implementing a policy change widening its rules against inciting violence.

“We want to let you know that we have made some updates to our site-wide rules regarding violent content,” Reddit announced Wednesday. “We did this to alleviate user and moderator confusion about allowable content on the site. We also are making this update so that Reddit’s content policy better reflects our values as a company.”

“In particular, we found that the policy regarding ‘inciting’ violence was too vague, and so we have made an effort to adjust it to be more clear and comprehensive,” the statement said. “Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise, we will also take action against content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals.”

Several message boards hosted on the site, or “subreddits,” shuttered shortly after the announcement, including r/NationalSocialism, r/Nazi, r/EuropeanNationalism and r/far_right.

Launched in 2005, Reddit boasted 542 million monthly visitors as of April 2017, making the site the fourth most popular in the United States and ninth worldwide. The site hosted more than 1.17 million different subreddits as of earlier this month devoted to a multitude of topics ranging from sports and sex to video games and gore, with the most popular subreddit, r/announcements, boasting about 19,000 subscribers.

The European Nationalism subreddit was dedicated to “the uncompromising defense of the interests of the European peoples,” and the official description for the Far Right subreddit contained quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, according to archived versions of the pages accessed Thursday.

Neither of the recently banned groups were particularly popular, however, with most of them boasting no more than a few thousand subscribers as of earlier this month, according to the Reddit Metrics website.

Reddit announced the policy change shortly after The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that police recently charged a prolific Reddit user in connection with allegedly killing his 73-year-old father this past July.

Lane Davis, 33, told authorities he stabbed his father after he “called him a Nazi,” the report said, citing court documents. He’s been charged with first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty during an August court hearing, according to the report.

Reddit’s decision to boot racist forums from its website this week comes on the heels of fellow internet firms banning neo-Nazi users after a far-right rally held in Virginia this summer that ended in the death of a counterprotester and two police officers.

Domain registration services operated by GoDaddy and Google notably banned The Daily Stormer, a crude website rife with anti-Semitic and racist content, after its publisher wrote a blog post mocking the slain protester. Stormfront, the nation’s longest-running website geared toward white nationalists, effectively went dark after losing its domain of more than 20 years over a similar spat with their registrar.

“National Socialists and all pro-Whites should make the maximum use of whatever free speech platforms that still remains while they can, because eventually every legal free speech option which we now enjoy will be taken away from us. And sooner rather than later,” a Stormfront user wrote Thursday in response to Reddit’s policy change.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is likely to discuss the policy change during an online question-and-answer session on his site next week.