The popular pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald, one of the largest online communities for supporters of the president, was quarantined by Reddit on Wednesday.
According to Reddit, the reason for the quarantine was due to “significant issues reporting and addressing the violations of the Reddit Content Policy” with the most recent violations including “threats of violence against police and public officials.”
For now the move is largely symbolic — the subreddit is not outright banned, and subscribers can still access it. But it does limit The_Donald’s reach on Reddit, as well as its long-term survival on the site since “quarantining” is often a prelude to a subreddit eventually dropping off altogether.
Moderator shadowman3001 further elaborated on the ban in a post on The_Donald which was predictably greeted with fury and vitriol by the subreddit’s users.
“Over the last few months we have observed repeated rule-breaking behavior in your community and an over-reliance on Reddit admins to manage users and remove posts that violate our content,” they said. “Most recently, we have observed this behavior in the form of encouragement of violence towards police officers and public officials in Oregon.”
Over the past week, there has been an ongoing standoff between Oregon GOP lawmakers and the Democratic governor, who last week ordered the state police to find wayward Republican state senators who had fled the capitol and were refusing to vote on a cap and trade bill.
Anti-government militias quickly vowed to protect the fleeing senators, including one lawmaker who threatened to shoot state police trying to bring him back to the capitol to pass the climate legislation. And as Media Matters noted on Monday, all of this has subsequently led to an upswing in calls for violence on the subreddit.
One user wrote, “None of this gets fixed without people picking up rifles.” Another wrote that “rifles are the only way we’re going to get any peace in our lives.”
Another user said they had no problem “shooting a cop trying to strip rights from Citizens” while one poster advocated burning down the cities of Portland and Eugene.
The latest calls for violence are nothing new for The_Donald. As the SPLC noted last April, the site has been awash with white nationalist talking points, such as the Great Replacement — a conspiracy theory which claims white populations are being replaced by non-white populations through migration — as well as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. After the Parkland mass shooting in February 2018, The_Donald was influential in spreading the conspiracy theory that the survivors were actually “crisis actors.”
Reddit, along with other Big Tech platforms, has been under severe pressure to crack down against far-right content and misinformation on its site. Last September, the site banned a subreddit devoted to the QAnon conspiracy theory for inciting violence and harassment. The latest quarantine, however, is likely to attract the ire of President Donald Trump, who has previously hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the subreddit and who this morning was complaining about Big Tech censorship on Fox Business.
“Look, we should be suing Google and Facebook and all that, which, perhaps we will,” he said, claiming without proof that the social media giants were actively suppressing conservative voices and rigging the 2020 election.