With the recent controversies surrounding “incels,” popular U.S.-based message board site Reddit is back in the spotlight. While Reddit deserves harsh criticism for not removing subreddits (topic-specific message boards) that encourage illegal behavior, it’s important to be precise: Reddit is a gigantic website with tens of thousands of different subreddits with a diverse array of topics. Not all of them, in fact relatively few, encourage illegal activity or advocate bigoted positions.
The basic premise of Reddit is that people can talk about or post about almost anything they want. Although some minor censorship does occur from the management of Reddit (mostly concerning illegal content), moderation mostly falls on the user-led administration of each subreddit. This has cultivated a strong anti-censorship stance amongst the userbase of Reddit.
To be clear, I am not letting ne’er-do-wells off the hook. People shouldn’t do illegal or bigoted things, and Reddit should be more stringent with blocking the worst of the worst. It just seems wrong to lump the alt-right clubhouse of /r/The_Donald and /r/Incels with /r/aww (mostly cute animal photos), /r/PrequelMemes (memes about prequel Star Wars films), /r/AppHookup (smartphone app sales), and any number of other legitimate message boards.
To not treat this issue with the nuance it deserves is to not do justice to the issue itself.