Reddit Ends Shadowbans, Intros Suspensions

Unless you’re an avid Reddit user, you might not know what a shadowban is. Even if you are a Reddit user, you might not know, as many users who do get shadowbanned don’t figure it out for weeks or months.

reddit-snooThe shadowban was Reddit’s thoroughly inelegant solution to deal with, among other things, abusive users. When a user is shadowbanned (usually for abusing another redditor and getting reported for it) he can keep posting, but his posts, comments and votes are invisible to everyone else on the site. In Reddit’s own words, the Shadowban “is great for dealing with bots/spam rings but woefully inadequate for real human beings.”

Reddit previewed back in May that they would be taking a number of steps to make the site more user-friendly and free of harassment. That is easier said than done, since the site is cherished by (many of) its users as a bastion of free speech.

This week Reddit is taking what we think is a very positive step forward in its delicate balancing act between allowing free speech and users who are out to harass others. Account suspensions are now a thing, replacing shadowbans. According to a related post, suspensions can be handed down by Reddit employees (not by unpaid moderators) for the following actions:

  • Posting anything illegal, Revenge Porn or spam
  • Inciting or encouraging violence
  • Threatening, harassing or cyberbullying
  • Divulging others’ personal information (Reddit is mostly anonymous)
  • Impersonating others (does not include parodies)

Suspended users with not be able to post, comment, vote or message other users throughout the term of the suspension.

Reddit maintains that the suspension is a better solution, and we agree. Suspended users will be notified via private message, and will have the opportunity to appeal. They will know what they did wrong, and have incentive to not do it again. Suspensions can last from one day to an outright ban, which is also warranted in some cases from what we’ve seen.

The fact that there is some mature content on Reddit might make the site inappropriate for some teens. There is however, a wealth of valuable content there. Both of my teen boys use Reddit, one of them almost daily. If Reddit’s efforts succeed in making the experience safer for users, it’s a step in the right direction.

 

 

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Reddit Improves Safety Tools, Will End the Shadowban

A comment thread related to a blog post on Reddit today states in no uncertain terms that Reddit is working on getting rid of the shadowban.

reddit-snooIn the blog post – a good one – the Reddit admins announced improvements designed to ensure the safety of Reddit users. The company’s goal is reducing harassment by providing better reporting tools. Supposedly Reddit will also add the staff necessary to investigate and address reports of harassment, which it defines as:

“Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person (1) conclude that reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or (2) fear for their safety or the safety of those around them.”

Even if you don’t use Reddit, there is a good chance that your teens do. The site attracts over 160 million monthly unique visitors.

One feature of Reddit that as far as we know is unique to them is the shadowban. When a user is shadowbanned he can keep posting, but his posts and comments are invisible to everyone else on the site. According to reports, shadowbanned users can go months without figuring out that they’re been blacklisted.

When it comes to harassment, ending the shadowban is the correct step for Reddit and the community. When a user is shadowbanned, yes, the abuse stops, but the harasser has learned nothing about the consequences of his actions.

The announcement was made by Reddit’s founder and Executive Chairman:

“[The shadowban] was a product decision we made literally 10 years ago — it has not been updated and it needs to be. Back when we made it, we had only annoying marketers to deal with and it was easier to ‘neuter’ them (that’s what we called it) and let them think they could keep spamming us so that we could focus on more important things like building the site. We’ve recently hired someone for this task and it will also be more user-friendly.

It’s actually still used a vast majority of the time (north of 90%) on spammers/advertisers. I know it’s an easy meme to latch on to, but that’s the truth of it.

By my estimate, [some] people who do get banned and aren’t spammers/advertisers could be reformed if we just made it all more explicit — that’s what we’re going to do.”

Reddit is home to a lot of lively debate and argument, some of which devolves into nasty harassment and cyberbullying. Some users appear to be just plain nasty and perhaps they’ll never change. There is a chance that those who are acting on a short fuse, or others who are just doing it to get a reaction can change their behavior is challenged and/or disciplined by the Reddit platform. It’s an effort worth making.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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