Reddit has banned a community devoted to U.S. President Donald Trump. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the social media site, one of the largest on the internet, had banned the subreddit “The_Donald” as part of an overhaul in its hate speech policies.
“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that,” said Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman in a call with reporters.
“The_Donald” was home to roughly 790,000 users who posted memes, videos, and messages in support of the president. Reddit executives told The Times that the subreddit had constantly broken its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech.
“The_Donald” was one of more than 2,000 groups that Reddit banned as part of sweeping changes that the company announced. Other notable subreddits include “Chapo Trap House,” which is devoted to a left-leaning podcast group. The Times reports that the vast majority of the groups being disbanded are inactive.
Reporting also suggested that “The_Donald” was the most high-profile subreddit to be disbanded, and suggested that many of the videos and memes that have later become viral on platforms like Facebook and Twitter originated in that subreddit. One such video was created in 2016 and was eventually retweeted to Trump’s 83 million followers by the president.
Reddit was founded 15 years ago and has more than 430 million active users. The site was originally dedicated to absolute free speech but has slowly introduced guidelines banning certain types of groups. The first set of harassment policies was introduced in 2015, and the company also banned subreddits that targeted black and obese people that year.
“The_Donald” has long been one of the most difficult groups for Reddit’s leaders to monitor. The group, which has trafficked in conspiracy theories and racist rhetoric according to Reddit’s leaders, was kept on the site in spite of its increasing regulations.
The ban was a last-ditch effort after the volunteer moderators who run the subreddit refused to work with Reddit’s leaders.
“We’ve given them many opportunities to be successful. The message is clear that they have no intention of working with us,” Huffman said.
The news of Reddit’s decision comes as a number of social media companies are deciding how to handle the president and his supporters on social media. Facebook, the world’s largest social site, has long said that it refuses to be an arbiter of the content on its platform. As a result, some major advertisers have begun to pause their advertising on the site.