Reddit has continued to ignore calls to ban the notorious Trump-supporting board The_Donald as users compile instances of threats hate speech, and now an investment in Reddit from a firm led by Jared Kushner’s brother is drawing even greater scrutiny.
The company was swept up in controversy this week after admitting that it had been a target for Russian propaganda during the 2016 presidential election and had purged “a few hundred” accounts believed to be spreading this propaganda. There had already been evidence that the Donald Trump supporter subreddit, The_Donald, had been flooded with Twitter posts and other material now identified as Russian propaganda, and a post from Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman was the first public admission that the site was indeed a target of Russian election meddling.
But The_Donald has been a flashpoint for criticism even before it was identified as a haven for propaganda. Users have compiled instances of threats and hate speech rampant on the Trump-supporting board, and there is even a petition calling on Reddit to ban The_Donald as it had with other subreddits identified as harboring hate speech.
There is a long collection of death threats against political opponents, anti-Semitism, racism, and its users have worked offline to create a database of the names and phone numbers of Trump opponents. There have even been subreddits created to track these instances, but Reddit has thus far refused calls to have the board shut down.
A leak of internal data from the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency discovered by The Daily Beast serves as the first confirmation that the Russian troll farm deployed online agitators on Reddit. The leak also reveals 21 Tumblr accounts. https://t.co/onuauIQE81
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 4, 2018
Amid the growing calls for Reddit to ban The_Donald as it previously did for subreddits like AltRight, there is growing scrutiny on the site’s connections to the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law. In a $50 million round of fundraising announced in 2014, Crunchbase noted that Reddit received an unspecified amount of funding from Thrive Capital, a firm founded by Joshua Kushner, Jared’s brother.
Many users have pointed out the connection with the Kushner family and questioned the site’s administrators about whether the ties have anything to do with the decision not to act on perceived abuses at The_Donald. While Reddit has given no indication that the funding has any influence over site policies or decision-making, the ongoing silence from top brass at Reddit has led to frustration.
Reddit has been closed off about media inquiries, failing to respond to the Daily Beast in a story about documents that showed Russian efforts to spread propaganda on the site, and in a follow-up story about what Reddit was doing to cooperate with congressional investigations into Russian election interference, the site’s public relations staff referred the online news site to Huffman’s statement posted on Reddit that offered few answers about what had been done.
In that note, Steve Huffman said that Reddit was not considering banning The_Donald and said that instead, the subreddit might “fall apart by their own dysfunction.” He has not addressed the site’s ties to Jared Kushner’s family.