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Reddit aims to 'heal' amid comment-editing scandal

The social-networking site is targeting a community of Donald Trump supporters as part of a crackdown on abusive behavior on the site.

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Steve Huffman, Reddit's CEO, announced a new crackdown on abusive behavior on the social network.

Photo by Reddit

Reddit is cracking down on abusive behavior -- again.

Steve Huffman, CEO of the popular social-networking and news site, on Wednesday reiterated his regret for creating a comment-editing scandal last week and said the site is taking a number of steps to help the site to "heal." Specifically, he said, the site is taking action to curb abusive behavior related to the election of Donald Trump.

"The United States is more divided than ever, and we see that tension within Reddit itself," Huffman wrote in a statement. "The community that was formed in support of President-elect Donald Trump organized and grew rapidly, but within it were users that devoted themselves to antagonising the broader Reddit community."

Huffman said he was asked by many to outright ban "r/the_donald," the reddit community that supported the Trump presidency, but resisted. Instead, posts stickied with "r/the_donald" will no longer appear on Reddit's "r/all," a popular listing page frequented by users.

Reddit has also identified "hundreds of the most toxic users" on the site and will take action ranging from warnings and time-outs to permanent bans, he said.

"It is my first duty to do what is best for Reddit, and the current situation is not sustainable," he wrote, a week after admitting to editing several comments that criticized him on the site.

The crackdown comes as social-media sites grapple with content policies in the wake of an election in which sites like Facebook and Twitter played a key role. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week the company is investigating allegations that fake news stories shared on the social network helped Trump win the election.

Founded in 2005, Reddit, which had more than 240 million monthly visitors in April of this year, has long seen itself as a venue where people could share whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. But the anything-goes approach has also led to abusive posts and content, leading some users to abandon the site.

To combat that behavior, Reddit in May 2015 adopted a new antiharassment policy that prohibits attacks and harassment of individuals through the site. Among the subreddits shuttered was a fat-shaming forum dubbed "FATPEOPLEHATE," which had more than 5,000 subscribers.

That followed a February 2015 policy update focusing on so-called "revenge porn" that banned the posting of any photos, video or digital images containing sexually explicit content of someone else without that person's permission.

Reddit isn't alone in trying to find a workable balance between unfettered speech and a controlled atmosphere. Many of the world's largest social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have responded to problems on their own networks by introducing new policies.

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