- Reddit in a message to moderators on The_Donald, a site for followers of President Trump, has warned against messages promoting “vigilantism” against the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment probe.
- The site was quarantined by Reddit in June after users posted violent threats against public officials.
- Hardline Trump supporters have long posted memes and messages on the site, as well as sharing conspiracy theories and racist messages.
- Conservatives have in recent weeks posted the name of an official they claim is the whistleblower, and tech giants including Facebook and YouTube have pledged to remove references to the individual.
- Business Insider has been unable to verify the accuracy of claims about the whistleblower’s identity, and is therefore not sharing the name being circulated.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Reddit in a message to users of The_Donald subreddit, where hardline supporters of the president gather to post memes and vent their grievances, has warned them against inciting “vigilantism” against the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment probe.
In a message to the group’s moderators, who have a role in enforcing the site’s policies, Reddit said that “posts that do nothing more than attempt to focus mob attention on this alleged individual cross a line” and that there had recently been a “dramatic rise” in such posts.
You can see the full message below:
In comments under the warning, users of the subreddit criticised the warning.
“How can we harass someone that we don’t know? Also, how does the constant drivel spewing on the other subs against POTUS constantly not targeted harassment then?” commented one user.
Reddit did not immediately respond to a request from Business Insider on the warning, which was first reported by CNN.
In recent weeks, conservative media outlets and activists have circulated the name of an official they claim is the whistleblower, in an attempt to breach the anonymity protections the official is entitled to under federal law.
Business Insider has been unable to verify the accuracy of claims about the whistleblower’s identity, and is therefore not sharing the name being circulated.
Tech giants Facebook and YouTube said they would delete posts containing the official’s name, but some users have continued to share it without any action being taken.
In August, the whistleblower raised the alarm about Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to announce a criminal probe into Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender. The complaint led Democrats to launch a formal inquiry to probe whether Trump committed impeachable offences in attempting to pressure Ukraine to do his bidding.
The_Donald has long been among the most popular – and controversial – online gathering spaces for supporters of the president.
Memes posted on the site are frequently spread by supporters of the president and go viral on social media, with the president himself in 2017 sharing a meme first posted on the site showing him body slamming a CNN avatar.
In the past users of the site have spread pro-Trump conspiracy theories – including the Pizzagate theory – posted racist messages and violent threats against opponents of the president and his agenda.
Reddit quarantined the subreddit in June over violent threats posted against public officials in Oregon, where GOP lawmakers were involved in a dispute over a climate change bill.
The move is applied to subreddits that are “highly offensive or upsetting” and means that messages posted there could not show up on Reddit’s main page, or surface in Google search results, and a pop-up warning greets users of the site requiring them to opt-in.
In June, Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman explained why he wasn’t in favour of banning large political communities on the site, even if they breach its rules against spreading violence.
In a discussion hosted on the site, he wrote “banning a large political community that isn’t in violation of our policies would be hugely problematic, not just for Reddit, but for our democracy generally. Political speech is the most protected form of speech in the United States, and we are sensitive to that and take cues from the government when we think about our policies.”
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