Reddit bans a major alt-right community -- and there might be a very good reason why

Steve huffmanRedditReddit CEO Steve Huffman

Reddit has banned its “/r/altright” community, one of the most major online gathering places for the so-called alt-right movement.

The alt-right is a white-nationalist ideological movement which rose to prominence during the 2016 presidential election, and which has ties to White House Chief Strategist and former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon.

The community was known among Reddit for being a hotbed of anti-Semitic and racist conversation.

If you try navigating to the “/r/altright” community, you’re greeted with the following message: “This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information.”

While Reddit isn’t offering any additional context on what, specifically, brought the ban, the site’s very active user community has its own theory. If these rumours are to be believed, users of “/r/altright” were posting links to a site called WeSearchr, despite Reddit leadership warning strongly against it.

WeSearchr bills itself as “a marketplace for information,” where users can contribute money towards “bounties.” Right now, for instance, a top WeSearchr campaign has raised a $5,353 bounty for the identity of the person (described on the site as a “domestic terrorist”) who punched white nationalist Richard Spencer in the face during the protests at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Reddit’s rules strictly prohibit revealing anybody’s private personal information, and members of “/r/altright” are said to have been warned that even sharing WeSearchr would constitute a violation of those terms.

This is just another test of Reddit’s struggles to balance safety and free speech, which has been a big issue for the site for some while.

In late November, for instance, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman confessed to modifying posts from Donald Trump supporters as a form of revenge for the verbal abuse they were slinging his way. Now, users of the “/r/The_Donald” community are afraid that the ban of “/r/altright” is a precursor to more “censorship” on Reddit and a possible ban for themselves.

And in July 2015, Reddit banned a community dedicated to hating fat people.

“There is no single solution to these issues and we are actively engaging with the Reddit community to improve everyone’s experience,” says Reddit in an e-mailed statement. A Reddit spokesperson hadn’t yet responded to questions about WeSearchr by the time of publication.

Still, the mood on Reddit is largely celebratory following the ban:

Comment from discussion /r/altright has been banned. Discuss this here!.

Comment from discussion /r/altright has been banned. Discuss this here!.

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