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Racism not against Reddit’s rules, says chief executive

Steve Huffman said ‘obvious open racism, including slurs’ are not barred by the site.

Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman has said that racism is allowed on the social media site.

In response to a direct question from a user, the site’s chief executive said racial slurs are not against Reddit’s rules.

Reddit user chlomyster asked Mr Huffman: “Is obvious open racism, including slurs, against Reddit’s rules or not?”

“It’s not,” responded Mr Huffman, username spez. “On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behaviour from beliefs.

“This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so.

“When users actions conflict with our content policies, we take action.”

Reddit is divided into communities and Mr Huffman said their moderators are allowed to make decisions on what speech is allowed on them.

“Our approach to governance is that communities can set appropriate standards around language for themselves,” he said.

“Many communities have rules around speech that are more restrictive than our own, and we fully support those rules.”

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The discussion, part of a thread focusing on the site’s annual transparency report, drew criticism from many users.

Some said Reddit community The_Donald was used to advertise for a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville last year, where Heather Heyer was killed after a car rammed into protesters at the Unite The Right rally.

User PerdidasBH said there were communities that “exist solely and explicitly to incite racial hatred, or to demean women or condemn LGBT people”.

User chaos750 wrote: “I know Reddit has free speech embedded deep inside its DNA, but I just can’t fathom being okay with running a site where blatant racism is explicitly allowed.”

Another, Nudetoes said they supported Mr Huffman, writing that Reddit is “one of the few places we can express free speech and hear others speaking freely too, no matter how polarising it may be”.

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