Reddit to Provide More Protection from Trolls with New Blocking Feature

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Reddit has been making big policy changes lately in attempts to combat one of the most notorious and seemingly insurmountable issues of the Internet: trolls.

trolltoll.jpg
Not this kind. Reddit loves /r/dannydevito

 

17ielvjicc32pjpg.jpgYeah, this kind.

 

Last Wednesday, Reddit launched a new ‘blocking’ feature that enables users to block any other user’s posts from being visible to their account without that person’s knowledge (similar to a ‘mute’ feature).

The blocking function is the newest of a few recent policy changes from Reddit that are aimed at slowing the persistence of some of the more vicious trolls currently dwelling in the dark corners of Reddit, which could help enable Reddit to achieve its current goal of growing into a more inclusive & friendly household name like other top social media platforms such as Facebook & Twitter.

For anyone who is lucky enough not to have encountered a ‘troll’ before, trolls are individuals who post online about ideas, topics or pieces of content that is either unabashedly distasteful or meant to anger, torment, embarrass or tease another (usually innocent/ignorant or genuine) individual on the Internet, then persistently post said content or related hate speech until others are noticeably upset. Trolls may move on to another target at that point, or may make it their life goal to forever torment one person (see: GamerGate). And repeat.

Since its launch in 2005, Reddit has been a sort of breeding ground for people like these to unify and grow in strength and numbers. The pseudo-anonymity and limitless conversation capacity that Reddit provides, combined with a mostly hands-off moderator policy, was a perfect place for less savory or taboo topics to find a home (anywhere from /r/SantaPorn to /r/Cannibalism — but these are generally quarantined) and for like-minded trolls to band together, “spread like a virus” to other parts of the Internet, and create more distasteful or hurtful content.

The forum was originally designed sans-censorship as a way to be a welcoming space for all to express themselves freely no matter what topic, but as Internet bullying and trolling has become a more serious issue that (at minimum) is unpleasant for a majority of users, the founders of Reddit have begun to assume a more active role in policing the most vicious users. Earlier policy changes from 2015 included new content rules disavowing harassment and all other content that “violates a common sense of decency”.

All of this being said, my questions for the class are:

  1. Do you think Reddit can subdue the trolls (in other words, do you think policy changes and mute buttons will be enough to make a significant positive change to their signature “everything-goes” online culture)?
  2. Is there a possibility that policy changes will cause Reddit to become less popular, or that this may only make trolling more challenging (and maybe even more satisfying when they succeed)?
  3. Does Reddit have what it takes to become a mainstream social media website (in terms of ease of use, advertisement capabilities, etc)?
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3 thoughts on “Reddit to Provide More Protection from Trolls with New Blocking Feature

  1. PSA that I am not an avid reddit user but from my experiences with the site, much of the allure is these “Trolls” and the generally uncensored/dark internet nature they create. Usually when I visit these websites it is to get some humor out of these trolls and their absurd comments that anger other users into rants so in that sense I see this as a bad move on Reddits part to remove that from their culture but if they do think they can become a credible news and social media platform its something they have to do. I just dont see that ever being the case given that much of their culture is maintained by internet trolls. On the other hand, with issues of cyber bullying popping up more and more, I think these people do need to be monitored to some extent.

  2. Loved seeing an article about Reddit on the blog– it’s such an interesting platform. At work, we talk about Reddit a lot because it’s a great source for fan conversation on properties like TMNT, which has such a rich mythology element. However, it’s scary for our brand to launch an official presence in the space because it really is the Wild West of social media. Having privacy settings such as this troll feature makes me wonder if there are ways, or soon to be ways, for (some) brands to more actively play in the space.

  3. I am often find myself intimidated by Reddit. It is not because of the trolling, but it is perhaps because of the idea of the unknown, or the lack of structure on the website (aesthetically at least), or the lack of general media attention around it (not consistently in you face like other platforms). Having said that, I do feel this image starting to change (in my eyes at least). Between the launch of the app, the trolling feature, and more “events” like AMA (ask me anything), I am slowing starting to come around on Reddit.

    While I do not envision the website (or app) being a daily check-in for me, I am curious to see if Reddit can cater more to the main-stream by shedding their “dark-web” image. At a very minimum they have turned a corner.

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