Yishan Wong, the chief executive officer of Reddit, has tried to explain why the site has not banned certain subreddits (sections of the website where users share items connected to a specific topic) despite banning the subreddit which contained the stolen pictures of nude celebrities.
In a Reddit thread under the title "Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul" [sic], Mr Wong wrote: "I did not say 'we won't ban any subreddits ever'. I said that we don't ban subreddits for being morally bad. We do ban subreddits for breaking our rules, and one of them is repeatedly and primarily being a place where people post copyrighted material for which valid DMCA requests are being received."
Essentially, the company refuses to ban subreddits for being "morally bad" but will if they break any laws or any of the website's own rules.
This seems just a little disingenuous, considering the content of some subreddits that still exist. For instance:
There are hundreds of subreddits that are racist in tone and content. Many use the N-word in their titles or draw comparisons between black people and apes. One discusses the riots in Ferguson, which it describes as "ChimpOut 2014". In another subreddit, users share video clips and images of black men who are either dead or about to die, usually in violent circumstances. Despite the subreddit combining violent images and racist terminology, it avoids being banned by not directly inciting or calling for violence.
Various subreddits discuss sex with animals. While the majority of these are fantasies, drawings or artwork, there are videos of people engaging in sex acts with animals or describing their personal experiences. Zoophilia is a felony in most of the US, but is only a misdemeanour in California where Reddit is based.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a subreddit exists where users shares images of injured or dead animals, not to raise awareness but as a joke and add their own pithy headline. The images range from innocent pictures of autopsies or hanging meat, to images of road kill (a dog missing its rear legs and abdomen), poaching victims (a rhino with its horn torn off) and even full-blown animal cruelty, including videos of men beating animals.
Reddit got into trouble in 2012 over /r/creepshots, a subreddit where users shared sexualised pictures of women they had secretly taken. While the subreddit and similar ones were taken down, clones of it still exist, the names of which we will not share.
One of the Reddit rules restated by Mr Wong is that "Actions which cause or are likely to cause imminent physical danger (e.g. suicides, instructions for self-harm, or specific threats)" are prohibited. Yet somehow a subreddit filled with nothing but pictures of self-harm persists.
All sorts of misogyny
If it's misogynistic, it will eventually find itself on Reddit. For instance, there are separate subreddits dedicated to killing, beating and raping women. While the subreddit /r/beatingwomen is banned, a clone page is still active. In some cases these are either fantasies or simply users sharing porn videos of consenting adult performers, but some of the content goes beyond the pale, or links to subreddits about...
A subreddit exists where users shares pictures of dead bodies (almost all of them women) described in sexualised terms ("Morgue babes", "fit young thing", "gorgeous Brazilian girl with bullet wounds.").
The images on the subreddit are either from crime scenes or accidents such as car crashes, or of bodies in mortuaries.
It may seem incomprehensive and upsetting for people not familiar with Reddit, but some subreddits do actually share images of child victims. One features victims of conflict in areas such as Syria and Gaza, with small children covered in bruises and stitches. Users often attempt to add humour to the images: a girl with her face smashed apart has the headline "not going to Disneyland". Another subreddit shares images of children who have been hideously burned (all of the images have been added by just one redditor).
There is also a subreddit featuring aborted foetuses presented alongside sexualised language. There isn't much more we can say.