It seems like just the various other day that Reddit lastly banned a grasp of its most hateful and deplorable subreddits, including r/coontown and also r/fatpeoplehate. The relocate was, in ~ the time, derided by some as pointless, akin come shooing criminals away from one ar only to problem another. Yet a brand-new study shows that, because that Reddit in ~ least, the has had lasting optimistic effects.

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The policing of hate speech virtual has end up being a flash suggest for many a flame war, this past few months especially, together white nationalists, neo-nazis and others through abhorrent but strictly speaking fairly legal viewpoints struggle v being banned continuously from the internet’s greatest platforms.

The practice has led sites choose StormFront to look for shelter in ~ dismal ports prefer off-brand master and tiny social networks pitching their yongin of certain varieties of totally free speech gift “censored” by others. It’s an example of among the objections made come the idea the banning troublesome customers or communities: they’ll just go elsewhere, therefore why bother?


Researchers at the Georgia institute of an innovation took this question seriously, as until someone actually investigates whether such bans are helpful, harmful or part mix thereof, it’s all speculation. Therefore they take it a major corpus of Reddit data (compiled by PushShift.io) and examined specifically what taken place to the hate speech and also purveyors thereof, v the two previously mentioned subreddits as case studies.

Essentially they looked in ~ the thousands of users that made up CT and also FPH (as they call them) and quantified their dislike speech usage. Lock then contrasted this pre-ban data to the exact same users post-ban: exactly how much hate speech they produced, where they “migrated” to (i.e. Duplicate subreddits, associated ones, etc.) and whether “invaded” subreddits knowledgeable spikes in dislike speech together a result. Control groups were created by observing the task of comparable subreddits that weren’t banned.

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What they discovered was encouraging for this strategy of reducing unwanted task on a site choose Reddit:

Post-ban, hate speech by the very same users was lessened by as lot as 80-90 percent.Members that banned areas left Reddit in ~ significantly higher rates than regulate groups.Migration to be common, both to comparable subreddits (i.e. Overtly racist ones) and also tangentially associated ones (r/The_Donald).However, within those communities, dislike speech did no reliably increase, back there were slight bumps as the intruders encountered and tested new rules and also moderators.

All in all, the researchers conclude, the half was quite reliable at what it set out to do:

For the an interpretation of “work” framed by our research study questions, the ban operated for Reddit. It succeeded at both a user level and a community level. Through the banning the subreddits which engaged in racism and also fat-shaming, Reddit was able to alleviate the prevalence of such behavior on the site.

Of course, it’s no so simple as every that. Naturally, numerous of the individuals who formerly spewed racial slurs in ~ CT simply moved end to gove or Voat, whereby their habits is proud fostered. But the suggest of the bans at Reddit wasn’t to get rid of racism; it to be to discourage the on the platform. To that end, it accomplished its goal (I’ve inquiry Reddit what it think of the study and its conclusions). And similar strategies might work for other platforms.

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The concern of exactly how to come combat racism and hatred at huge is one the is yes, really too lot for a significant platform prefer Reddit or even Google or Facebook. The finest they can hope to perform is strike at it when and where the appears. Yet as ineffective together that could seem, it functioned for Reddit and it may work elsewhere: bigotry is easy and those who cherish it room lazy. Do it challenging and many world may find it more trouble than it’s precious to harass, shame, and also otherwise abuse digital those various from themselves.