Reddit CEO Steve Huffman faced backlash earlier this week by telling site users that racism was not explicitly against the platform’s rules. On Friday, he released an updated statement to clarify his earlier remarks.
“While racism itself isn’t against the rules, it’s not welcome here,” he said in a statement to The Verge. He continued, “I try to stay neutral on most political topics, but this isn’t one of them. I believe the best defense against racism and other repugnant views, both on Reddit and in the world, is instead of trying to control what people can and cannot say through rules, is to repudiate these views in a free conversation, and empower our communities to do so on Reddit.”
Huffman had originally responded to a question about racial slurs written in a thread about Reddit’s 2017 transparency report, saying Tuesday that Reddit’s policy on hate speech was more lenient than other social media platforms’ policies.
Many criticize Hoffman for allowing a space for harassment and hate speech to thrive, while others question the extent to which tech platforms should be responsible for and policing what people say and do in private spaces not protected by the First Amendment.
In his statement, Huffman added, “When it comes to enforcement, we separate behavior from beliefs. We cannot control people’s beliefs, but we can police their behaviors. As it happens, communities dedicated to racist beliefs end up banned for violating rules we do have around harassment, bullying, and violence… I believe that presenting a sanitized view of humanity does us all a disservice. It’s up to all of us to reject these views.”
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