Advertisers boycott social media platforms in effort to eradicate ‘hate speech’

Politics

This Monday, June 29, 2020 photo shows the Reddit logo on a mobile device in New York. Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the internet’s most popular websites, on Monday, June 29, 2020 banned a pro-Donald Trump forum as part of a crackdown on hate speech. Reddit banned a total of 2,000 of these forums, or subreddits, most of which it said were inactive or had few users. (AP Photo/Tali Arbel)

(AP) — Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the internet’s most popular websites, on Monday banned a forum that supported President-Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech.

The Trump forum, called The_Donald, was banned because it encouraged violence, regularly broke other Reddit rules, and defiantly “antagonized” both Reddit and other forums, the company said in a statement. Reddit had previously tried to discipline the forum.

Reddit’s action against The_Donald was part of a larger purge at the San Francisco-based site. The company said it took down a total of 2,000 forums, known as the site as “subreddits,” most of which it said were inactive or had few users.

Social-media companies have long struggled to deal with so-called “hate speech” on their platforms. A growing number of large advertisers have said they are pausing social-media spending after a campaign by a group of civil-rights and other groups called for an ad boycott of Facebook, saying it has failed to curb racist and violent content and misinformation.

On Monday, Ford Motor Co. put the brakes on all national social media advertising for the next 30 days. The company says hate speech, as well as violent and racial injustice content, need to be eradicated from the sites.

Also on Monday, live-streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, temporarily banned Trump’s account for violating its hateful conduct rules. Twitch pointed to comments made in two rallies that were posted on the site. One was at a recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Trump mentioned “a very tough hombre” breaking into someone’s home. The other was from a 2015 campaign rally that was recently reposted on Twitch, in which Trump said Mexico sends people to the U.S. that are rapists and bring drugs to the country. Twitch declined to say how long the suspension will last.

Reddit has tweaked its rules and banned forums for white nationalists over the years in an attempt to rid its platform of vitriol, sometimes dealing with an outcry from users because of it.

CEO Steve Huffman said earlier this month that Reddit was working with moderators to explicitly address hate speech.

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