Reddit Bans R/Watchpeopledie And R/Gore Following New Zealand Mosque Shootings

Stock photo of computer code.
Pexels / Pixabay

In the wake of the mosque shootings which took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, aggregation and discussion website Reddit has decided to ban two popular subreddits — categories or subsidiary threads — due to inappropriate content.

As reported by Buzzfeed News, Reddit has removed two popular subreddits less than a day after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques located within the New Zealand town of Christchurch. The killer live streamed the incident to Facebook, which allowed some users to capture the live stream before Facebook staff were able to take it down. Unfortunately, some users took it upon themselves to post it on various social media platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit.

As a result, Reddit chose to remove the /r/watchpeopledie and /r/gore subreddits. While these subreddits have existed for years, they have come under fire by critics and Redditors alike, as members on both subreddits have been known to share extremely graphic and violent material.

In a statement, a Reddit spokesperson explained the decision to ban the two subreddits.

“We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites or glorifies violence will get users and communities banned from Reddit,” a spokesperson said in the aforementioned statement. “Subreddits that fail to adhere to those site-wide rules will be banned.”

While banning subreddits has proven controversial, Reddit has continued to ban communities that violate its terms of service. At the time of writing, over 20 subreddits have been banned on the site, including /r/TheFappening (used to discuss and share leaked nudes of celebrities, some of whom were underage), /r/Incels (a subreddit founded for so-called “involuntary celibates”), and /r/FatPeopleHate, which focused on ridiculing and mocking those who are overweight.

As Buzzfeed News notes, Reddit is not the only platform that is contending with the issue of inappropriate content. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all tried to keep video of the Christchurch shootings from disseminating, though, at times, video uploads have slipped through the watchful eye of detection algorithms and moderators.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson from Reddit told Buzzfeed News that the /r/watchpeopledie subreddit was allowed to stay on the site as it provided a service to other Redditors, providing the opportunity to “learn about or cope with death.” Less than 24 hours later, Reddit moved to ban the subreddit, which, at the time of its removal, had more than 300,000 subscribers. In regards to video footage of the mosque shootings, a moderator on /r/watchpeopledie had hoped that Reddit would allow it to remain up on the site.

“The video stays up until someone censors it,” one moderator on /r/watchpeopledie wrote earlier this week before the subreddit was banned. “This video is being scrubbed from major social media platforms but hopefully Reddit believes in letting you decide for yourself whether or not you want to see unfiltered reality.”