Reddit’s pro-Trump community “The Donald” was quarantined by the site’s moderators today. The Donald is one of the largest gathering places for Trump supporters on the internet.
A message displayed to visitors of the subreddit states that it has been restricted “due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of the Reddit Content Policy,” and that recent violations “included threats of violence against police and public officials” in Oregon. Moderators of the community have historically fallen short in ensuring that hateful and threatening content stays off of its community board, perhaps because some of the moderators appear to be sympathetic to those with extreme views.
As Media Matters noted earlier this week, users posting to The Donald issued calls for violence following news that Republican Oregon state senators fled the state to avoid a vote on cap-and-trade climate regulations and that Oregon’s governor had authorized state police to return the legislators to the capitol to continue official business. Many users on The Donald shared sentiments suggesting that guns were needed to remedy the situation, and one user stated that Oregon was turning into North California and that “the only way to get it back is to burn Portland and Eugene to the ground.”
The Donald has avoided heavy scrutiny from Reddit moderators for years, despite the consistent vitriol present in content regularly circulated among its user. As Justin Ward reported at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch, “even though much of [The Donald’s] content is just a more tasteless version of garden variety Tea Party populism, the online subculture of the alt-right forms the core of The_Donald’s identity.”
Many members of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and even Trump himself, have popped into the subreddit for “Ask Me Anything” sessions with its user base. As The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reports, other pro-Trump figures “including Fox News host Tucker Carlson and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, have also appeared in the forum to interact with subscribers.” Right-wing legal shop Judicial Watch has also been particularly active on The Donald, sharing content from their operations shop and photos of organization president Tom Fitton.
Right-wing social media pundits were quick to cry censorship, ignoring The Donald’s long history of banning any users who voiced criticism of President Trump within the subreddit. The community has been a springboard for hoaxes and conspiracy theories.