Reddit is seen by many causal users and most who don’t use it as one of the Wild West corners of social media. Almost anything goes, and that makes it fertile hunting ground for the millions of trolls out there.
Trolls aren’t going away any time soon, as taunting-as-sport seems to be a full time hobby for some social media users of a certain personality. Reddit is trying to help.
The help, however, comes in the form of something that looks like the shadowban that they used to deploy.
If you’re not familiar, a shadowban is an action by a social network wherein a user who gets reported for harassment is still allowed to post content, comments and send messages but those posts will be invisible to all other users. When in effect, the shadowbanned user was never informed of his change in status. Reddit figured out that there were better ways to do things and discontinued the practice last year.
This week Reddit is announcing a new “block user” feature. If someone is annoying, harassing or threatening you on Reddit, in addition to or instead of reporting that user and relying on Reddit to make things right, you can block them. When blocked, private messages and comment replies from that other user will not be visible to you. As with the shadowban, however, the other user will not be informed that he has been blocked.
Reddit is also taking a little heat already for not being more transparent, or not banning abusive users entirely, but it probably speaks to how difficult it is to define what behavior is truly abusive. With this solution, if you don’t want to see someone’s comments, you don’t have to.
We’re big fans of Reddit, which is an unpopular stance in the digital parenting crowd. Sure, it has lots of adult content, and more than its fair share of trolls and bullies, but for teens mature enough to avoid the rough spots, there is also a wealth of engaging, entertaining and educational content.
No solution is perfect, and we’re glad that Reddit continues to take steps to make its platform more user friendly. We’ll be watching this one carefully.
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