In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election, The Donald was one of the most popular communities on Reddit.
But shortly after President Trump was elected, Reddit started to make changes that slowly throttled The Donald subreddit before quarantining it in 2019 and then purging half of its moderators earlier this year.
As a result of these changes, this once-vibrant subreddit is now a ghost town with most of its users migrating to TheDonald.win – a site that The Donald’s moderators launched last year after targeted Reddit censorship.
But in a recent comment on this drastic decline of The Donald which has resulted in the users of one of Reddit’s most active communities abandoning the site, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman wrote that the current “near-dead state” of the subreddit is fine with him and that he wished he’d quarantined the community sooner:
“I wish we had quarantined them sooner because we would have made progress sooner. I admit we spent too much time with moderation teams that claimed to be doing their best while large numbers of users upvoted content that clearly broke our policies, which made it clear the issues were not of moderation, but of the community culture. Once we realized the quarantine was not working, we increased our pressure on the mod team to bring the community in line with our policies, open to both them either succeeding in this or failing and being banned. Instead, a number of the community members decided to go off-platform and create their own website, leaving r/the_donald in its current, near-dead state. And that’s fine with me.”
Huffman’s comments supporting the deterioration of one of his own site’s communities come amid rising concerns that Big Tech companies are allowing political and ideological bias to influence their decision making.
Last week, Twitter made the unprecedented move of censoring one of President Trump’s tweets.
And earlier this week, the Trump campaign accused Snapchat of “trying to rig the 2020 election” after it removed Trump’s account from its “Discover” tab while continuing to promote the account of 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in this section.
These decisions have left many users of these platforms questioning why they’re taking enforcement action against Trump yet giving other politicians and world leaders a pass.
While concerns over political and ideological bias influencing the decision making on these platforms are rising, such decisions are also fueling many success stories outside of Big Tech’s walled gardens.
TheDonald.win is thriving and now has 3 million visits per month according to web analytics service SimilarWeb.
And free speech social network Gab has also experienced record growth in the wake of Twitter starting to target the President’s account.