Reddit made a name for itself as the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet,” with user-generated forums that allow people to anonymously share everything from funny animal memes to conspiracy theories and edgy political opinions.
But the website—the eighth-most trafficked in the world, according to website ranking firm Alexa—has recently been ramping up its efforts to stamp out the darker fringe of the platform as it hopes to encourage users, publishers and advertisers it’s a safe home for their content.
With the help of a recent round of funding, Reddit is increasing its investment in human content checkers, investigating whether Russian entities used its platform to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and preparing a redesign that will, among other benefits, give more tools to its thousands of moderators to make their job of policing the site easier.
In an interview at the Web Summit trade show in Lisbon, Reddit co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Huffman said the violent clashes between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville, Va., in August were a wake-up call. A rallygoer plowed his car into a crowd of people demonstrating against the white nationalists, killing one woman and injuring 19 people.
Mr. Huffman and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian had both studied there at the University of Virginia in the early 2000s. “I grew up an hour away, so that’s my home, and then we saw people on Reddit celebrating that violence and we were like, ‘we can’t, this is not acceptable, this is not who we are,’” Mr. Huffman said.
A few months later, Reddit updated its content policy to ban content that glorifies, incites or calls for violence against an individual, groups of people or animals, after noting that the previous rules had been too vague.
Reddit employs an “anti-evil team,” whose job it is to help fight abuse on its platform. A forthcoming redesign of its desktop site, slated for the first quarter of next year, will make the site look more familiar with other social networks and will also include new tools for its many thousands of moderators, such as “bulk actions” to make the filtering of harmful content more efficient.