Two of the most popular sports-related subreddits on Reddit went dark on Tuesday, closing their boards with a message decrying what moderators saw as actions to harbor racists and calling for a site-wide anti-bigotry policy.
A message shared on r/NFL specifically called out Reddit founder and CEO Steve Huffman, who in the past has been accused of allowing some of the more extremist elements to remain on the site with little restrictions.
“Reddit has harbored racists as policy for years /u/spez,” a notice that replaced the subreddit’s front page read, tagging Huffman’s username.
“It has led to battling racism constantly, increased by the kneeling that encompassed Black Lives Matter’s message.”
The message added a series of requests, including adopting a policy against bigotry, removing heavy participants in “hate subreddits,” and allowing a way to report subreddits based on their content.
A similar message was shared on r/NBA’s front page, with moderators saying they share in the grief of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and stand with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Racism is an issue that is ingrained in the institutions of our country. We support those that stand against these injustices and fight systemic racism,” the note read.
“u/spez stated that Reddit stands against racism. We need to do more than stand against racism. It cannot be tolerated any longer. We ask that Reddit take concrete action to deplatform users and communities that perpetuate racism. We will be blacked out for 24 hours.”
The actions to take down the popular subreddits followed a number of prominent athletes who have expressed support for the protesters and some who led protests of their own. That included former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was friends with Floyd.
Many have criticized Reddit for being slow to take action against some of its larger subreddits that often contain racially charged or abusive content, including the Donald Trump-supporting subreddit r/The_Donald. Many accused the site of promoting racially divisive content, including the heavy promotion of the Charlottesville protests in 2017 that were heavily attended by white supremacist groups.
Reddit eventually placed the site under quarantine, not allowing it to show up on the front page and placing a message noting that it had been flagged for rule-breaking content.