Reddit Ends Controversial Trump-Themed Forum “The_Donald”

The decision is part of a larger trend in the industry

President Donald Trump sits behind a microphone in the East Room of the White House in June, 2020
President Trump at an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting on June 26.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
By Tobias Carroll / July 1, 2020 6:00 am

At its best, the online forum Reddit is a place where fans of just about anything can discuss their areas of interest. Looking to theorize about the latest season of Westworld, revisit soccer history or share obscure scientific trivia? Odds are good that you can find a community on Reddit for it. The problem with the platform from the same wide-ranging approach: there are some deeply toxic communities that have flourished.

Much of the contentious debate about Reddit has surrounded the r/The_Donald subreddit. As its name suggests, this is a place for some of Donald Trump’s most dedicated admirers to gather. In a 2018 article for Slate, Justin Peters dubbed it “the pro-Trump role-playing game for extremely online sociopaths.” Last June, Reddit responded to a number of violent posts on the subreddit by quarantining it from the rest of the site. A year later, Reddit has taken the next logical step and removed the subreddit entirely.

Writing at The Atlantic, Kaitlyn Tiffany offers more details on the change. The r/The_Donald subreddit isn’t the only one affected; Reddit appears to have banned the forum in conjunction with a number of other changes to its content policies:

The ban comes after years of controversy around r/The_Donald and its promotion of racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories, and violent memes starring a cartoon frog. Reddit is also removing 2,000 other communities today, including the 160,000-member subreddit associated with the popular left-wing podcast Chapo Trap House.

For longtime observers of Reddit, this decision won’t come as much of a surprise. And with a host of other online spaces pushing back against toxicity, misinformation and hate speech — including Facebook, Twitch, Discord and Twitter — Reddit’s decision feels entirely in keeping with the mood of its industry. Might it also lead to more welcoming online spaces? One can only hope.

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