A new feature has a lot of Reddit users up in arms.
Reddit is about to unveil a new tool that might not make its most outspoken users very happy.
For more than 10 years now, Reddit has been the home of free speech on the Internet — and at times, very ugly speech or straight up harassment speech, especially easy to do when you’re hiding behind an anonymous username.
So Reddit is taking steps to deal with online abuse by creating a blocking feature to stop harassment on the site and prevent abusive users from sending messages to others.
The San Francisco-based company is looking to expand beyond the 243 million monthly visitors it gets and break into the mainstream, and they’re hoping the blocking capability will increase community engagement.
Reddit is often criticized for being a breeding ground to racists, misogynistic, and abusive individuals — the cesspool of the Internet where all sorts of undesirables gather to spread hatred, some have claimed. In 2014, Reddit was the home of the “fappening” when stolen nude photos of celebrities lifted straight off their cloud storage were leaked, and even led to the creation of a subreddit devoted solely to that.
Here’s Reddit’s post on the matter from user KeyserSosa:
Reddit is a place where virtually anyone can voice, ask about or change their views on a wide range of topics, share personal, intimate feelings, or post cat pictures. This leads to great communities and deep meaningful discussions. But, sometimes this very openness can lead to less awesome stuff like spam, trolling, and worse, harassment. We work hard to deal with these when they occur publicly. Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ve just released a feature to help you filter them from within your own inbox: user blocking.
Believe it or not, we’ve actually had a “block user” feature in a basic form for quite a while, though over time its utility focused to apply to only private messages. We’ve recently updated its behavior to apply more broadly: you can now block users that reply to you in comment replies as well. Simply click the “Block User” button while viewing the reply in your inbox. From that point on, the profile of the blocked user, along with all their comments, posts, and messages, will then be completely removed from your view. You will no longer be alerted if they message you further. As before, the block is completely silent to the blocked user . Blocks can be viewed or removed on your preferences page here.
Our changes to user blocking are intended to let you decide what your boundaries are, and to give you the option to choose what you want—or don’t want—to be exposed to. [And, of course, you can and should still always report harassment to our community team!]
These are just our first steps toward improving the experience of using Reddit, and we’re looking forward to announcing many more.
Many responded well to the change, but tot surprisingly, some Redditors reacted with fury over a perceived attempt to curtail their “free speech.”
User ImaMoFoThief: “So can I block all the admins and then plead ignorance in case of a ban?”
User Donnadre: “The outcome then will be many subreddits where groupthink will dominate and discussion will be suppressed.”
User ravia: “There is something wrong, in principle, with this functionality.”
User Cult_of_BW: “Reddit is turning into an oligarch”
User paragonofcynicism: “Because nothing encourages free and open discussion like bans and blocking!”