Reddit: No Sexual Content Featuring MinorsBy: Josh Wolford - February 13, 2012
Reddit has made an announcement concerning a topic that has hounded the online community for some time now – as of Sunday, they are adding a new overarching rule concerning sexually suggestive content featuring young girls. “Today we are adding another rule,” they said in a blog post. “No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.”
This might make some of you stop and think, “Wait, reddit is just now making this rule?” And it’s true, this was never an explicit rule on the site. As they point out in their post, the site really has very few rules – no spamming, no messing with the actual inner-workings of the site. Reddit has always had a policy against anything illegal – but much of the content that this new ban addresses tiptoed the legality line. In order to avoid any future “legal quagmires,” reddit it making a sweeping move to ban any subreddit that “focus[es] on the sexualization of children.”
Of course, many of the subreddits that will fall under this umbrella will contain no nudity of underage girls. Reddit has always sought to eliminate “child porn” on a case by case basis (following NCMEC guidelines). But that’s where a lot of this content had toed the line. Many of the subreddits like /r/teens and the previously defunct /r/jailbait post images of underage girls who are clothed but might be making suggestive poses and whatnot. While many of the images were culled from places like Facebook and other public domains, for opponents of these types fo subreddits, it’s really all about the context. The children are being sexualized – even without nudity.
Here’s the whole post:
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.
So as of this morning, subreddits like /r/jailbaitarchives, /r/bustybait /r/thenewjailbait, and /r/teens have all been banned. In scope, a subreddit like /r/jailbait archives had nearly 10,000 subscribers.
The reason a subreddit like that gained subscribers is due to the fact that reddit shut down the controversial /r/jailbait subreddit last Fall. This came after a public firestorm around the issue that even saw the likes of Anderson Cooper get involved.
But right after it was banned, other subreddits popped up in its place. And that’s the nature of reddit – it’s huge. And t’s hard to police every little item in every little subreddit. So is this grand new policy change more of a PR move than an actual substantive shift? Subreddits like “SexyButNotPorn” and “AnythingGoesNSFW” are still up and running. And while subreddits like these make explicit rules for no jailbait or even nudity in some cases – it’ll be up to the moderators to police the content.
Most people can agree that any steps taken to combat child pornography are good steps. But some redditors worry about the slippery slope that comes with any sort of content ban. Plus, they are also wondering whether or not this new ban will cover /r/toddlersandtiaras. So far, that subreddit it still up and running.[Image Courtesy reddit]