You Can’t Stay Here: The Efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech
ESHWAR CHANDRASEKHARAN, Georgia Institute of Technology
UMASHANTHI PAVALANATHAN, Georgia Institute of Technology
ANIRUDH SRINIVASAN, Georgia Institute of Technology
ADAM GLYNN, Emory University
JACOB EISENSTEIN, Georgia Institute of Technology
ERIC GILBERT, University of Michigan
This paper looks at the success of Reddit’s closing of communities filled with hate speech in reducing hate speech across the platform.
The empirical work in this paper suggests that when narrowly applied to small, specific groups, banning deviant hate groups can work to reduce and contain the behavior.
The banning of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown led to the rise of alternatives on Voat.co, for example, where the core group of users from Reddit reorganized. For instance, in another ongoing study, we observed that 1,536 r/fatpeoplehate users have exact match usernames on Voat.co. The users of the Voat equivalents of the two banned subreddits continue to engage in racism and fat-shaming [22, 45]. In a sense, Reddit has made these users (from banned subreddits) someone else’s problem. To be clear, from a macro persepctive, Reddit’s actions likely did not make the internet safer or less hateful. One possible interpretation, given the evidence at hand, is that the ban drove the users from these banned subreddits to darker corners of the internet.