You can't stay here: The efficacy of Reddit's 2015 ban examined through hate speech

Eshwar Chandrasekharan, Umashanthi Pavalanathan, Anirudh Srinivasan, Adam Glynn, Jacob Eisenstein, Eric Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In 2015, Reddit closed several subreddits-foremost among them r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown-due to violations of Reddit's anti-harassment policy. However, the effectiveness of banning as a moderation approach remains unclear: banning might diminish hateful behavior, or it may relocate such behavior to different parts of the site. We study the ban of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown in terms of its effect on both participating users and affected subreddits. Working from over 100M Reddit posts and comments, we generate hate speech lexicons to examine variations in hate speech usage via causal inference methods. We find that the ban worked for Reddit. More accounts than expected discontinued using the site; those that stayed drastically decreased their hate speech usage-by at least 80%. Though many subreddits saw an influx of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown "migrants," those subreddits saw no significant changes in hate speech usage. In other words, other subreddits did not inherit the problem. We conclude by reflecting on the apparent success of the ban, discussing implications for online moderation, Reddit and internet communities more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Volume1
Issue numberCSCW
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Banning
  • Causal inference
  • Hate speech
  • Moderation
  • Online communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'You can't stay here: The efficacy of Reddit's 2015 ban examined through hate speech'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this