On Monday, both Twitch and Reddit ramped up their efforts to deal with various forms of hateful content on their platforms — and both of them ended up shutting down some forums related to President Trump — which inevitably (but incorrectly) resulted in people again screaming about “anti-conservative bias.” Reddit kicked things off by announcing new content policies (which you can read here). The key change was an expanded rule against communities that “promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”
Based on that, Reddit has permanently shuttered around 2,000 subreddits, including, most notably the r/The_Donald subreddit for Trump fans. However, as if they were expecting the bogus claims of anti-conservative bias to show up in response, Reddit also shut down r/ChapoTrapHouse, which might be considered the flip side to The_Donald subreddit, but from the left end of the traditional political spectrum. Both communities were known for their anger spewing wackos. Reddit painted its decision to suspend both as a way to show that it is applying the rules equally across all its subreddits:
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. The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.
Though smaller, r/ChapoTrapHouse was banned for similar reasons: They consistently host rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.
To be clear, views across the political spectrum are allowed on Reddit—but all communities must work within our policies and do so in good faith, without exception.
Of course, because content moderation at scale is impossible to do well, I’ve already seen plenty of complaints about other Reddit forums that the site failed to take down. And I fully expect that at some point a forum will be shut down by overzealous moderators. Because that’s the nature of content moderation.
Meanwhile, over on the Twitch side, the site has been coming under increasing attacks for enabling a lot of harassment. Since much of Twitch is live-streaming, it’s that much more impossible to monitor. Last week, the company promised to take harassment claims more seriously and began suspending some users. On Monday, that included a temporary ban of the president’s campaign account on the site. Apparently, the move was in response to comments made at recent Trump rallies, that Twitch claims violated its policies.
Twitch pointed to comments made at two rallies that led to its decision. At a campaign rally in 2016, which was recently rebroadcast on the platform, Trump said Mexico was sending over its bad actors, such as rapists or drug dealers. Twitch also pointed to Trump’s recent Tulsa rally, where he told a fictional story of a ‘tough hombre’ invading someone’s home.
“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 stream, and the offending content has been removed,” a Twitch spokesperson told CNBC.
Again, these platforms are in an impossible position — which we detailed in our post about the content moderation impossibility theorem. If they do nothing, tons of people will call out these platforms for inaction. But in pulling down these accounts, a bunch of other people will now be furious as well. And sooner or later these platforms will pull down other accounts that lots of other people (no matter what they’re political leanings) will get upset about as well. This is the nature of content moderation.