The last couple of weeks have highlighted just how much influence external pressure can have on the social media executives who shape content moderation policies.
Two weeks ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized Twitter’s decision to fact-check President Trump and suggested that the company wouldn’t be censoring his posts.
Less than a week after making this original statement and after facing sustained pressure to take action against the President, Zuckerberg changed his tune and said the company was considering adding warning labels to posts from world leaders.
But even this wasn’t enough to stop the demands for more censorship on the platform with Facebook’s moderators penning a letter this week which calls for the censorship of President Trump.
Now a similar situation is playing out on Reddit with more than 500 subreddits with over 200 million subscribers signing an open letter that demands more censorship of “hate speech” on the platform.
This open letter was penned after Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s recent announcement that even stricter moderation policies for tackling “hate” will be coming to the platform in the next few weeks.
The letter states that these upcoming changes are “not enough” and urges Huffman to ban hate speech targeted against “protected groups,” proactively ban “hate-based communities,” and ban “hate users.”
It also calls for Reddit to “take a meaningful stand against hate” by hiring more minorities and women, hiring more community managers, and honoring the wishes of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian by having his Reddit board seat filled with a black candidate.
Huffman responded to the open letter by thanking the users who had signed and insisting that there’s lots of overlap between the demands of the open letter and the stricter moderation policies that will be coming to Reddit:
“We shared our thoughts and intentions last Friday, June 6; your list and our list have a high amount of overlap. We’d like to show progress with what we do in the coming weeks rather than what we say. I’m looking forward to speaking directly with those of you participating in the Mod Councils. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for all you do for your communities.”
Days before Huffman thanked these users who are demanding even more censorship on the platform, he wrote that the decline of The Donald, a community that was once one of the most popular subreddits on the site, was fine with him and that he wished he’d quarantined it sooner.