Reddit Redux: Board Bans ‘Sexualization of Children’

CYBERSPACE—Determined to be the last board standing that takes a non-judgmental position regarding content that flirts with and sometimes actually is child pornography, Reddit has been forced to finally (and unenthusiastically) ban “suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.” The new policy was announced yesterday on the Reddit blog.  

As reported by AVN last year, Gawker has been lambasting Reddit for a long time over its willingness to tolerate a sub-community of pedophiles and ephebophiles. Today, it said the decision to ban underage erotic content “only took six years and a couple public scandals,” and the site had to be dragged kicking and screaming.

“The change comes after Reddit was faced with yet another embarrassing outcry over the pedophile subsections that users kept creating on the site, with administrators' passive consent,” wrote Adrian Chen for Gawker. “This time, it was ‘preteen_girls,’ which featured images of 11 year-old girls in bikinis and captions like ‘waiting for the load.’ In one thread about ‘foreign films with child nudity’ a user appears to have posted a screenshot of a naked underaged girl from a banned film, which users quickly notified administrators about.”

In response, she added, “the message board Something Awful launched a campaign to point out that Reddit still hosted a vibrant pedophile scene,” and “Reddit responded with an explicit ban on sexy pics of kids.”

Chen is hardly mollified by the decision by Reddit, which was explained in a manner that only confirmed for her the reason why the underage content was allowed to remain on the site for so long in the first place. One sentence in particular exemplified the point.

"Child pornography is a toxic and unique case for Internet communities, and we're protecting reddit's ability to operate by removing this threat,” wrote Reddit.

Chen responded, “That sentence excellently sums up the problem with the powerful hive mind spawned by Reddit, which has recently been praised widely for its role in helping to defeat SOPA. On Reddit, the entire universe is seen from the dementedly rational perspective of the white male geeks who created and dominate it. Humanity drops away, and exploiting kids is bad only to the extent it impinges on these dudes' freedom to talk about video games.”

White male geeks are a significant subset of porn’s fan base, so we can relate.

The entire Reddit announcement is reprinted here in its entirety:

At reddit we care deeply about not imposing ours or anyone elses’ opinions on how people use the reddit platform. We are adamant about not limiting the ability to use the reddit platform even when we do not ourselves agree with or condone a specific use. We have very few rules here on reddit; no spamming, no cheating, no personal info, nothing illegal, and no interfering the site's functions. Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.

In the past, we have always dealt with content that might be child pornography along strict legal lines. We follow legal guidelines and reporting procedures outlined by NCMEC. We have taken all reports of illegal content seriously, and when warranted we made reports directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who works directly with the FBI. When a situation is reported to us where a child might be abused or in danger, we make that report. Beyond these clear cut cases, there is a huge area of legally grey content, and our previous policy to deal with it on a case by case basis has become unsustainable. We have changed our policy because interpreting the vague and debated legal guidelines on a case by case basis has become a massive distraction and risks reddit being pulled in to legal quagmire.

As of today, we have banned all subreddits that focus on sexualization of children. Our goal is to be fair and consistent, so if you find a subreddit we may have missed, please message the admins. If you find specific content that meets this definition please message the moderators of the subreddit, and the admins.

We understand that this might make some of you worried about the slippery slope from banning one specific type of content to banning other types of content. We're concerned about that too, and do not make this policy change lightly or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal. However, child pornography is a toxic and unique case for Internet communities, and we're protecting reddit's ability to operate by removing this threat. We remain committed to protecting reddit as an open platform.