In response a great deal of criticism and controversy, Reddit has decided to ban the posting of sexually suggestive or exploitive images of minors.
After years of dealing with child pornography on a case-by-case basis, the social news site announced today that it would ban all subreddits that focus on the sexualization of children. Beyond obviously illegal content, the large amount of content in a legal grey area eventually convinced the site's administrators that its previous policy had "become unsustainable."
"We have changed our policy because interpreting the vague and debated legal guidelines on a case by case basis has become a massive distraction and risks reddit being pulled in to legal quagmire," the company said in a statement titled "A necessary change in policy.".
The move was in response to a wave of criticism on the site community chat boards over a subreddit called r/preteen_girls.
One user wrote of the controversy:
"My guess is it's similar to /r/jailbait, a mix of photos from creeps lurking around on Facebook, from the seedier corners of the Internet, and a few tamer photos that could be seen in /r/pics. It might not be illegal, but it sure as hell is disturbing, and might break the 'Don't post personal info' rule."
Reddit administrators shut down a "Jailbait" section last October after explicit images of a 14-year-old girl were posted to the section, which had more than 20,000 subscribers. The subreddits are created and moderated by users.
The decision to ban sections that focus on child sexuality wasn't an easy one, administrators said, adding that child pornography is "toxic" to Internet communities.
"We understand that this might make some of you worried about the slippery slope from banning one specific type of content to banning other types of content," the site's statement said. "We're concerned about that too, and do not make this policy change lightly or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal."