Reddit, freedom to hate fatties

The internet explodes again.

Reddit has banned the /r/fatpeoplehate subreddit. A few people have complained very loudly. Understandably when your community is unceremoniously pulled from under your feet. This was a surprisingly popular sub at 150000 readers – about the same level as writing, or guitar subreddits. Not huge, but certainly a sizeable niche.

As a freedom of speech fanatic, I should care. While reddit is under no legal obligation to provide any freedom of speech, it is something that generally does offer, and is part of its business model. They are providing a service, and a good business should provide the service its users expect. I’m no libertarian-capitalist. I consider businesses to have responsibility to the community they serve. The subscribers of /r/fatpeoplehate are that community. And while they may be offensive, freedom of speech is the freedom to offend!

But reddit changed its policy some time ago. They don’t offer freedom of speech. As they became more successful, their Overton Window narrowed. Even after, such a sub would have been  acceptable. Reddit still demands an excuse to wield the banhammer. In this case they had one. Users threatened people off-site.

Of course, the problem is still essentially non-existent. Switching to is a trivial matter. Or at least it will be when they deal with the influx of disgruntled redditors clobbering their servers. The free market may not be magic, but in this case it seems to work.


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