Reddit is set to take bolder steps to end online harassment of its users after a series of complaints and surveys that showed the site’s popularity is steadily declining because of the issue.
The site’s admins wrote Thursday in a blog post that they would no longer tolerate “attacks and harassment of individuals” on their platform. The administrators defined “harassment” as a concerted effort to demean or torment a user in a manner that would convince any “reasonable person” that the platform is not safe enough to freely express their ideas or get engaged into a conversation.
They also qualified as a case of harassment any activity that makes a reasonable person to fear for their safety or for the safety of those who are close to them.
The move is quite opposite to Reddit’s official stance on the matter which was very lax on content, but strict on site’s operations by banning spammers and those that manipulated votes.
Only three years ago, the platform took firmer actions to protect its users. In 2012 it banned child pornography after a CNN report and only a couple of months ago it prohibited users from posting compromising pictures of other individuals without their consent.
Reddit’s administrators expressed their discontent that the site’s “open” policies, which were initially designed to promote “free expression of ideas,” currently discourage free expression because people fear for their and family safety.
According to a Reddit survey that involved more than 15,000 participants that use the platform, violent responses to comments made users less likely to contribute or even recommend the site to others. Also, the survey showed that female users were more vulnerable to harassment attempts than their male counterparts.
Admins also pledged that harassment reports would be solved by site’s administrators after a careful investigation rather than letting moderators handle the issue.
Although, there isn’t a very clear picture of what can be qualified as harassment, administrators mentioned a harassment report from a user who was told that his dog would die a very slow and painful death. The aggressor even posted a picture of the dog and wrote: ‘Imagine its guts on the sidewalk.’
On the other hand, some users complained that the policy update could be used to suppress free exchange of ideas. Yet, the site reassured its users that 99.99 percent of its members won’t sense a “noticeable impact” of the change.
“It is specifically designed to prevent attacks against people, not ideas,”
the site’s admins said about the change in policy.
Image Source: International Business Times