Reddit says it will finally start cracking down on its most toxic users.
CEO Steve Huffman said Reddit has identified hundreds of users that it will take action against, ranging from warnings to timeouts and bans.
This comes one week after Huffman tried a different approach: He trolled the trolls. He secretly, and controversially, edited reddit posts that attacked him in the Donald Trump-related subreddit, r/the_donald and directed the vitriol at the page’s moderators instead.
Huffman copped to tampering with user posts last week but issued a more formal apology on Wednesday.
“I am sorry for compromising the trust you all have in Reddit, and I am sorry to those that I created work and stress for, particularly over the holidays,” he wrote. “I hope our transparency around this event is an indication that we take matters of trust seriously.”
Huffman admitted that he spent his “formative years as a young troll on the Internet” and that he thought he might “find some common ground with that community by meeting them on their level.”
The apology didn’t work — and Huffman was further criticized.
On Wednesday, Huffman said something has to change and admitted that relying on moderators to curb bad behaviors “has not been wholly effective.”
Huffman pledged to take a more proactive approach to policing behavior in an effort to clean up the site. That will begin with reprimanding hundreds of users and preventing posts from the r/the_donald community from appearing on its most popular listing page, r/all.
In addition, the company has introduced filtering for the r/all board so users can block certain content from entering their feeds.
Reddit won’t shut down the r/the_donald community entirely, despite calls to do so.
“It is with this spirit of healing that I have resisted doing so. If there is anything about this election that we have learned, it is that there are communities that feel alienated and just want to be heard, and Reddit has always been a place where those voices can be heard,” Huffman said.
Being the target of trolling himself seems to be a new tipping point for Huffman, who took back the helm of Reddit more than a year ago after interim CEO Ellen Pao resigned. Pao spoke out then about the site’s trolling problem; Huffman proposed stricter content policy changes and stressed that the site prohibits harassment and bullying. But it’s been up to moderators to crack down on their own communities until now.
“I, along with several colleagues, was targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post my private information online and death threats. These were attempts to demean, shame and scare us into silence,” Pao wrote last summer. “In the battle for the Internet, the power of humanity to overcome hate gives me hope. I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls.”