Reddit has shut down the subreddit /r/CoonTown, along with other racist forums, including /r/WatchN****rsDie, /r/bestofcoontown, /r/koontown, /r/CoonTownMods, and /r/CoonTownMeta.
In an announcement on Reddit, CEO Steve Huffman, writing as /u/spez, announced a change in policy for the site that led to the removal of the subreddits. "We are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else."
The existence of these forums was a long-standing symbol of Reddit's dark side, and their removal from the site comes after several months of tumult within the company. After attempting to revise Reddit's community standards, CEO Ellen Pao stepped down amid open revolts from Reddit users and moderators. Huffman replaced her, and his plan for moderating content on Reddit skewed toward reclassification rather than elimination: clearly marking NSFW subreddits, banning actively harmful behavior, and "quarantining" the uglier sides of Reddit without kicking them off entirely.
Wednesday's removal of anti-black forums marks a shift in policy since Huffman's update to Reddit's content policy in mid-July. When asked about /r/CoonTown then, Huffman said "The content there is offensive to many, but does not violate our current rules for banning."
Huffman later clarified that the communities were banned for their behavior, not content. "We didn't ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but [Coontown]'s existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult."
Along with the slew of anti-black subreddits that were banned today, Reddit also apparently removed communities dedicated to animated child pornography. Prior to today's announcement Reddit also shut down /r/RapingWomen.
BuzzFeed News reached out to Reddit for comment, and will update with any new information.
Brendan Klinkenberg is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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