Reddit Announces New Rules to Fight Bullying and Harassment

Shortly after Twitter announced new measures to protect users from online abuse, Reddit has unveiled new rules designed to help moderators combat bullying and abuse on their platform.

Reddit moderator landoflobsters, explained the new policy in a post to /r/announcements. In the post, landoflobsters detailed how the previous policy required bad behavior to be “continued” or “systematic” before moderators had authority to take action. Similarly, the threshold for someone who feared for their safety due to harassment was set too high, nor was it clear whether the same rules applied to individuals and groups. The end result was that Reddit quickly became a haven for trolls.

With the site’s new rules, moderators will be able to act much faster to protect users. In particular, the new rules take a “big picture” approach to moderating.

“The changes we’re making today are trying to better address that, as well as to give some meta-context about the spirit of this rule: chiefly, Reddit is a place for conversation,” said landoflobsters. “Thus, behavior whose core effect is to shut people out of that conversation through intimidation or abuse has no place on our platform.”

Reddit will also accept reports of abuse from bystanders, rather than requiring the individual being harassed to report it. The goal is to reduce any additional burden on someone who may already be suffering distress.

The announcement also goes on to explain that Reddit will be using more machine learning tools to sort and prioritize human reports. While humans will still make the decisions about whether behavior rises to the level requiring banning, machine learning will make it easier for human moderators to deal with the volume.

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Towards the end of the announcement, landoflobsters cautions that “as with any rule change, this will take some time to fully enforce. Our response times have improved significantly since the start of the year, but we’re always striving to move faster. In the meantime, we encourage moderators to take this opportunity to examine their community rules and make sure that they are not creating an environment where bullying or harassment are tolerated or encouraged.”

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