Reddit has come into focus once again on the issue of hate speech on its platform.

It’s a problem that has plagued the site for some time now, but for the most part has been pushed to the periphery as the website has seemingly upped its efforts to combat the use of such language.

Well that was what we thought Reddit was addressing, but a recently leaked conversation between user Zachary Swanson (whatllmyusernamebe) and CEO Steve Huffman (spez) paints a far different picture.

Originally shared by The Huffington Post, Swanson asked Huffman a series of questions regarding the company’s policies on hate speech and why greater efforts were not being made in ensuring the platform was safer to use.

Swanson took screenshots (featured below) of the private conversation and placed them on a pair of subreddits, after which he was informed via email that he was suspended from the site for a week for online harassment, according to The Verge.

In the conversation, Huffman did acknowledge that hate speech is a serious issue that Reddit needs to tackle, but what is perhaps most telling is the fact that he believes that policing of such activity on the site is simply too difficult.

“Hate speech is difficult to define. There’s a reason why it’s not really done. Additionally we are not the thought police. It’s not the role of a private company to decide what people can and cannot say,” replied Huffman when asked why hate speech does not fall under its own rule instead of Reddit’s violence policy.

Taking such a hands-off stance feels like too much of a cop out by the Reddit CEO, especially when the company gave publicly stated in the past for the importance of ensuring their site is safe for all its users to use.

Yes, Reddit is a platform where all views and opinions are welcome, but there is a definitive line between freedom of speech and hate speech.

As the Huffington Post points out, if Reddit has banned subreddits and users that shared racist, homophobic and transphobic opinion previously, why can’t it do the same for other forms of hate speech?

What are your thoughts on the Reddit CEO’s recent comments? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.


[Images – Zachary Swanson]
When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.