Reddit has announced a slew of new anti-harassment tools, signaling that it will be taking a more active role in fighting online abuse.
The rules are somewhat surprising considering the fact that Reddit has been known to take a more relaxed approach to harassment on the site, however, it has been tightening its grip over the past few months.
"Unfortunately, not all the changes on reddit have been positive. We've seen many conversations devolve into attacks against individuals. We share redditors' frustration with these interactions," said the company in a blog post. "We are also seeing more harassment and different types of harassment as people's use of the Internet and the information available on the Internet evolve over time. For example, some users are harassing people across platforms and posting links on reddit to private information on other sites."
The changes come after Reddit apparently conducted a study about its users. In a survey of around 15,000 of its users, around 50 percent of respondents reportedly said that they would not recommend Reddit to a friend, citing hateful content as the main reason.
"Instead of promoting free expression of ideas, we are seeing our open policies stifling free expression; people avoid participating for fear of their personal and family safety," continued the company in its post.
While most will welcome the new changes, there will be some who will see the changes as an attack on their ability to openly communicate within the website.
Reddit notably started tightening its grip when hundreds of photos of nude celebrities were leaked from Apple's iCloud and posted on 4chan and, subsequently, Reddit. Soon after the leak, moderators deleted all traces of the photos.
However, the post also left some questions unanswered, namely how the practice of shadow-banning a user will be affected. This process involves users who post a lot of spam on the site being banned, often without them even knowing it. Moderators are able to effectively make their comments invisible to other users without notifying the users themselves.
The new post defined harassment as actions that torment or demean someone, making reasonable people feel as if Reddit is not a safe place to express their ideas, fearing their own safety.
Administrators on the site will now investigate complaints, potentially banning users over these complaints. Reddit is likely to continue to hone in on how it wants to deal with online abuse, as other platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram are doing.