A year after Media Matters reported on threats of violence, Reddit finally bans “r/The_Donald”


Citation Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Reddit has finally banned the notorious subreddit “r/The_Donald,” following its users and moderators repeatedly violating the platform’s rules. The ban comes a year after Reddit quarantined the subreddit following Media Matters’ reporting on its users issuing calls to violence, and months after they had abandoned the subreddit for their own backup site.

The subreddit, dedicated to supporting President Donald Trump, had hundreds of thousands of users and helped spread narratives and content used by Trump himself. Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, was known to monitor the subreddit, and Trump did an “Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer session on the forum in 2016.

In his announcement of r/The_Donald’s ban (one of about 2,000 subreddits being banned), Reddit CEO Steve Huffman wrote it was due to being more explicit about barring hate speech, and he acknowledged that the subreddit had violated the platform’s rules for years. Media Matters and others have previously reported that the subreddit was spreading far-right misinformationconspiracy theories, and far-right campaigns, and it had violated not only Reddit's rules but also the rules of other platforms. Huffman also admitted the subreddit was known for spreading bigotry. Users had shared content from white nationalist figures and helped promote the deadly 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In June 2019, the subreddit was quarantined by the platform following a Media Matters report on its users issuing calls to violence against law enforcement, which is prohibited by Reddit. Despite that quarantine, which was meant to block off the subreddit from the rest of the platform, Media Matters documented how its users (and even its moderators) continued to violate Reddit’s rules, and the platform in November warned of “further consequences” against the subreddit. 

During that time, the subreddit’s moderators created a backup site and promoted it on r/The_Donald. When Reddit announced a purge of some of the subreddit’s moderators in February, the subreddit closed down posting and its users officially moved to the backup site, where they have been continuing their behavior ever since.

The move to ban the subreddit thus comes well after it would have had a substantial impact, and by taking as long as it did, Reddit gave its users more than enough time to organize and move to another platform.