Community news sharing site Reddit yesterday decided to ban a sub-community (called a subreddit) responsible for the sharing of leaked, nude celebrity photos.
The subreddit in question was called “The Fappening,” and gained notoriety after hackers released a trove of nude and revealing celebrity photos from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Upton, Kate Bosworth, Kirsten Dunst, and several others. Reddit moderators did their best to ban any links shared within the subreddit in the week since the photos first leaked. Reddit, however, had seen enough and chose to take action by eliminating the entire community itself.
Reddit’s CEO Yishan Wong said although the company moved to ban The Fappening, it was unlikely to change its practices to further prevent this type of behavior in the future. This was mostly because the current restrictions and rules Reddit put into place are sufficient, he said — albeit a bit late when it comes to enforcement.
Wong further explained:
The reason is because we consider ourselves not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community. The role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers.
This isn’t the first time Reddit has decided to take action to ban certain questionable communities from its site, as its previously killed other subreddits like Creepshots for similar invasions of privacy as well as banned well-known power users shown to enable such actions.
But regardless of why those communities might be toxic, Reddit’s very vocal users reacted mostly negatively to any sort of ban. This time was no different, as Wong’s blog post didn’t directly address why Reddit banned “The Fappening.”
Reddit system admin Jason Harvey (aka “alienth”) attempted to cool some of the fuss by starting that discussion about why the company decided to ban the subreddit. Most of it boils down to Reddit waiting too long to speak up about it before making the decision to ban, while assuming its users would mostly understand why it took place.
“If Reddit is truly to be a platform that’s open in any way, it needs transparency when (heavy handed) actions such as these are taken,” said Reddit user SaidTheCanadian in response to Harvey, while also suggesting the company create a “public log” of sorts showing all banning actions as well as explanations for each instance of a banned community. “I don’t want to be part of a community where community voices are silenced without meaningful notice or explanation. (No one really does like that secret police feeling.)”
While Wong said Reddit doesn’t plan to make any changes as a result of banning “The Fappening,” the overall Reddit community seems to think that might be the wrong move. VentureBeat is reaching out to Wong for further comment and will update this post with any new information.