Red­dit and Twitch both shut down pages de­voted to sup­port­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, cit­ing hate­ful speech.

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CRAIG TIMBERG, ELIZABETH DWOSKIN AND RACHEL LERMAN craig.timberg@wash­ elizabeth.dwoskin@wash­ rachel.lerman@wash­

Red­dit and Twitch both shut down pages de­voted to sup­port­ing Pres­i­dent Trump on Mon­day.

Red­dit’s de­ci­sion to move against r/the_don­ald, as its fo­rum was known, fol­lowed years in which the so­cial me­dia com­pany tried but of­ten failed to con­trol the racism, misog­yny, an­tiSemitism, glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of vi­o­lence and con­spir­acy the­o­ries that flour­ished there.

Twitch, a pop­u­lar gam­ing site where Trump of­ten streamed ral­lies, said the tem­po­rary ban was for “hate­ful con­duct.” The site, which is owned by Ama­zon, said Trump was told when he joined the site last year that politi­cians must fol­low all guide­lines and that it would be no ex­cep­tions for pub­lic fig­ures or news­wor­thi­ness. (Ama­zon chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Be­zos owns The Washington Post.)

The move against r/the_don­ald fo­rum on Red­dit came after its vol­un­teer mod­er­a­tors and much of the com­mu­nity had left in re­cent months. They moved to a web­site that mim­ics Red­dit’s sys­tem of con­ver­sa­tion and user vot­ing on con­tent but ap­pears to have fewer rules. The move is just one of sev­eral al­ter­na­tive so­cial me­dia sites, such as Gab and Par­ler, that have por­trayed them­selves in re­cent years as free­wheel­ing al­ter­na­tives to more main­stream plat­forms.

The move by the two sites comes amid a broader crack­down by tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Twit­ter and Face­book, to try to rein in hate­ful, de­cep­tive and other prob­lem­atic con­tent on their plat­forms, typ­i­cally after high-pro­file scan­dals prompted ac­tion. Red­dit also im­ple­mented its first pol­icy ban­ning hate speech on Mon­day and closed about 2,000 in­di­vid­ual fo­rums the com­pany calls “sub­red­dits.” The com­pany al­ready had a pol­icy against “di­vi­sive lan­guage” in ad­ver­tis­ing.

Most of the shut­tered sub­red­dits al­ready had be­come dor­mant while oth­ers, like r/the_don­ald, had his­to­ries of pol­icy vi­o­la­tions. Red­dit also closed the left-wing r/chapotraph­ouse on Mon­day for vi­o­lat­ing plat­form rules.

Red­dit chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Huff­man, who also is a co-founder of the site, said in an­nounc­ing the move against r/the_don­ald: “All com­mu­ni­ties on Red­dit must abide by our con­tent pol­icy in good faith.

“We banned r/the_don­ald be­cause it has not done so, de­spite ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.”

In a call with re­porters, he added that the de­ci­sion to close r/the_don­ald and other po­lit­i­cally themed sub­red­dits was “ab­so­lutely not” re­lated to the views aired on them. Nu­mer­ous con­ser­va­tive fo­rums re­main ac­tive, and some lib­eral ones also were closed on Mon­day for pol­icy vi­o­la­tions, he said.

“It’s one of the found­ing prin­ci­ples of Red­dit to foster [po­lit­i­cal] dis­cus­sion,” Huff­man said in the call with re­porters.

The com­pany’s gen­eral coun­sel, Ben­jamin Lee, said in the same call: “There’s a home on Red­dit for sup­port­ers of Don­ald Trump. . . . We’re not the ones who shut down the com­mu­nity. The mod­er­a­tors are the ones who shut down that com­mu­nity.”

Twitch cited two Trump broad­casts that ran afoul of its rules: Trump’s rally in Tulsa ear­lier this month and a re­cent video from a 2016 cam­paign rally in which Trump called some peo­ple en­ter­ing the coun­try from Mex­ico “rapists” and said they were “bring­ing crime.”

Trump of­fended Twitch’s rules, the site said, at his June rally by recit­ing a fic­tional in­ci­dent of a “very tough . . . hom­bre” break­ing into “the win­dow of a young woman whose hus­band is away.”

“Hate­ful con­duct is not al­lowed on Twitch. In line with our poli­cies, Pres­i­dent Trump’s chan­nel has been is­sued a tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion from Twitch for com­ments made on the stream, and the of­fend­ing con­tent has been re­moved,” Twitch spokesper­son Brielle Vil­l­ablanca said in a state­ment.

Trump has re­cently run up against the bounds of what so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies will al­low on their sites. So far, five of his tweets have re­ceived warn­ing la­bels from Twit­ter in re­cent weeks, and Face­book warned Fri­day that it will start re­mov­ing po­lit­i­cal posts that in­cite vi­o­lence.

Red­dit’s r/the_don­ald was born in June 2015 as Trump be­gan what was widely seen then as a long-shot bid for the pres­i­dency. Over the years, it was sub­jected to es­ca­lat­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tions for vi­o­lat­ing Red­dit con­tent poli­cies. Last year, the plat­form im­posed a “quar­an­tine” that made the fo­rum harder for Red­dit users to ac­cess after what the com­pany said at the time was months of “rule-break­ing be­hav­ior.” Those vi­o­la­tions in­cluded the “en­cour­age­ment of vi­o­lence to­ward po­lice of­fi­cers and pub­lic of­fi­cials in Ore­gon” dur­ing a leg­isla­tive dis­pute over cli­mate leg­is­la­tion.

Ear­lier this month, Red­dit co­founder Alexis Oha­nian quit the com­pany’s board, say­ing that he would use his Red­dit stock to serve the black com­mu­nity and curb racial hate. He said he would start by do­nat­ing $1 mil­lion to an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by for­mer NFL player Colin Kaeper­nick. He asked that Red­dit fill his seat with a black board mem­ber.

In an­nounc­ing the de­ci­sion, Oha­nian, who is mar­ried to ten­nis su­per­star Ser­ena Wil­liams, ap­peared to ref­er­ence Red­dit’s host­ing of hate­ful com­men­tary. “I’m say­ing this as a fa­ther who needs to be able to answer his black daugh­ter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’, ” he said on Twit­ter.

By the time Red­dit for­mally closed r/the_don­ald on Mon­day, it of­fi­cially had 790,000 self-de­scribed “Patriots” who par­tic­i­pated in what has been billed as “a never-end­ing rally ded­i­cated to the 45th Pres­i­dent of the United States, Don­ald J. Trump,” but there was lit­tle sign of re­cent ac­tiv­ity. The most pop­u­lar posts were sev­eral months old.

The site to which many for­mer users of r/the_don­ald fled, called the­do­, cel­e­brated the ban by Red­dit on Mon­day in a post ti­tled “This is How We Won,” say­ing they had an­tic­i­pated Red­dit’s ac­tion against them. “With noth­ing but raw tal­ent, and a pa­tri­otic drive to pre­serve our coun­try, we es­caped Sil­i­con Val­ley cen­sor­ship and cre­ated a new home out of noth­ing.”

Trump’s Twitch ac­count now shows a mes­sage that says, “Sorry. Un­less you have a time ma­chine, that con­tent is un­avail­able.”

Ear­lier this month, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that called on the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion to write new rules gov­ern­ing how so­cial me­dia sites can re­move con­tent from their sites while push­ing the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion to take ac­tion against com­pa­nies en­gag­ing in “de­cep­tive” acts of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The le­gal­ity of the ex­ec­u­tive or­der is dis­puted.

“In line with our poli­cies, Pres­i­dent Trump’s chan­nel has been is­sued a tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion from Twitch for com­ments made on the stream.” Brielle Vil­l­ablanca, Twitch spokesper­son


Pres­i­dent Trump ran afoul of Twitch’s stan­dards twice: In Tulsa, he re­peated a fic­tional in­ci­dent of a “very tough . . . hom­bre” break­ing into “the win­dow of a young woman whose hus­band is away,” and his cam­paign re­cently re­leased a video call­ing some Mex­i­cans “rapists.”


“All com­mu­ni­ties . . . must abide by our con­tent pol­icy in good faith.” Red­dit CEO Steve Huff­man said of re­mov­ing r/the_don­ald.

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