Reddit announced Wednesday that a notoriously racist subreddit, /r/CoonTown, had been banned under the site’s newly revised content policy. CT had survived after Reddit got rid of some of its more objectionable content in June by shutting down subreddits based on racism, transphobia, and fat-shaming, and a few weeks ago Reddit cofounder and CEO Steve Huffman declared that while CT’s content was “offensive to many,” it was permitted because, Huffman said, it did not bully or harass any one group of people.
In annoucing the ban of /r/CoonTown and a small number of related pages, along with a handful of other discussions on topics including animated child pornography, Huffman stressed that the bans had been applied only to pages that “exist solely to annoy other redditors” and “generally make Reddit worse for everyone else.”
Rather than brand CT’s content in particular as impermissibly offensive, Huffman framed the decision to close it down as a matter of time management. The hassle of managing this racist subsection of its online community was keeping the site’s leadership from “working on things for the other 99.98% (literally) of Reddit,” he said as he concluded his post on the bans. In a comment later in the ensuing discussion, Huffman added: “We didn’t ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but CT’s existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult.”
Whether Huffman’s frustration over “recruiting” was in reference to potential employees or new users to the site, it betrays some element of embarrassment over hosting a page called “CoonTown” dedicated to disparaging black people. While Wednesday’s announcement shows he’s willing to take out some of the more extreme, least defensible subsections, he took a less harsh approach to other controversial pages that weren’t banned but instead were given a new status known as “quarantine.” Those pages will be restricted, with their content hidden from most visitors to the site and requirements including email verification for members to gain access.