Reddit, the news and discussion social media forum with almost 200 million monthly users, is getting more serious about policing the content posted on its site, and this week they updated their Content Policy. This is good news for parents of teens who frequent Reddit, and there are a lot of them.
The decision doesn’t appear to have been an easy one, for very good reasons. The chief reason that this set of changes is difficult is that Reddit was built to be a site where users could post, vote on and discuss whatever they were interested in. Some people are interested in some things that are wildly objectionable to others. It’s tough to find a balance.
According to founder and newly installed CEO Steve Huffman:
“Our policies are not changing dramatically from what we have had in the past. One new concept is Quarantining a community, which entails applying a set of restrictions to a community so its content will only be viewable to those who explicitly opt in. We will Quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.
Today, in addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.”
In addition to introducing Quarantines, Reddit took the changes as an opportunity to outright ban another handful of offensive subreddits, including some that were focused on racism and child porn. They took similar actions a few weeks ago.
As a parent, ensuring that your online teens are looking at age appropriate material is a tough job indeed. Reddit is an example of a site where it’s very, very difficult. If your teen is into a very specific thing, like the video game Minecraft (446,000 subscribers) or photography (250,000 subs), chances are that there is a lot of great content for him on Reddit. If he idly browses Reddit to see what else is there, he is likely to encounter nudity and gore. If he chooses to comment more than a handful of times, chances are good that he might be cyberbullied.
It’s not impossible for teens to have an appropriate experience on Reddit, even though it will never be free of objectionable (to some) material. Both my teens use it. It’s important to restrict Reddit access to teens who are mature enough to navigate the land mines.
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