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