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Reddit Bans Fat Shaming Forums Amidst a Barrage of Hateful Prats

I'm going to have to try very hard not to swear at any point during this article, which adds an extra flavor of challenge to writing it and probably also works quite well as a form of anger management therapy. There has been plenty of talk of late about social media platforms failing to properly adhere to any kind of quality control against verbal abuse. Twitter is the most obvious example but Facebook's rather lax policies on videos have recently come under fire and even Snapchat briefly succumbed to a cyber-bullying outbreak, but it's worth remembering that while these platforms might be amateur league or even semi-pro in the hate game, Reddit is in a class all of its own.

Any extended perusing of the right subreddits will eventually lead you to something that would make Baby Jesus cry. However, there are entire corners of the site specifically reserved for these repugnant individuals to spew their frothing, putrid liquid hate into each other's ears like a postulating circle of diseased goblins puking on each other one by one and awarding marks out of 10. Now one such slurry pit has been shut down for good as the Reddit team have put a ban in place against any forums that dabbled in or promoted fat-shaming. The goblins are revolting.

As a direct response to this initiative to discourage people from saying awful things about the obese, people have started saying more awful things, mostly about the obese, but especially about Reddit CEO Ellen Pao. Alongside the fat-shaming forums (one of which had 150,000 subscribers/maggots), one racist forum was removed, one which targeted members of the gaming forum NeoGAF and one transphobic one. A veritable pick-and-mix of reasons to invest heavily in weapons-grade pesticide. Since the ban, badly photoshopped images of Pao as overweight have been surfacing, as well as other general images of legitimately obese people, mainly across forums that want absolutely nothing to do with any of it. There has even been calls for Pao to resign as a result of this. 

The argument that's been made in defense of the banned forums is that if the abuse is contained within its own dark, festering corner of the site, unsuspecting people with some glimmer of hope for humanity left in them won't inadvertently stumble across them. This, of course, makes so much more sense than just re-evaluating exactly why you feel the need to be such an abhorrent waste of skin. The initiative is intended to minimize the number of attacks on individuals which appear on the site, while a begrudging tolerance of more general hate has remained. 

This is really the root of the issue, it's one thing to use the internet as a loudhailer so that you can express your bizarre disgust at a subset of the world that has never done, nor wishes you any ill-will, but it opens up the door for people to directly attack individuals and that is really dangerous. Freedom of speech should never be blocked and this isn't necessarily an example of that, it's redirection, and Reddit are well within their rights to prevent users from dedicating forums to bullying and prejudice when there's a real, measurable risk of people getting bullied and threatened. 

It's fair to say that in the case of obesity, it should still be treated as an illness and those suffering from it should be encouraged to get help and get healthy, but find me someone who genuinely believes that spraying verbal formic acid in their faces will eventually push them to start losing weight, and I'll find you a 3-iron so you can beat the stupid out of them. The fact of the matter is that most of these people are only saying hideous things about other people because they have problems of their own, it's not on Reddit to enable them.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Reddit Bans Fat Shaming Forums Amidst a Barrage of Hateful Prats Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, June 15, 2015 Rating: 5

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