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Reddit CEO says racism is not against the rules

Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman. Source: Getty images

Steve Huffman has been forced to clarify his comments on whether racism is allowed on the popular Reddit website.

The co-founder and CEO of US news aggregator Reddit has found himself in hot water over comments about allowing racial slurs on its website. 

After being questioned directly by one Reddit user on Thursday, Steve Huffman said racism was allowed on the platform.

In the comments section of Reddit’s 2017 transparency report, Reddit user 'chlomyster' asked: “Is obvious open racism, including slurs, against Reddit rules or not?”

Mr Huffman, who replied under his username ‘spez’ said: “on Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behaviour from beliefs”. 

“This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so. When users’ actions conflict with our content policies, we take action.”

Reddit has more than 330 million users per month.

Reddit homepage is displayed on a computer screen.
Reddit homepage is displayed on a computer screen.
AAP

Mr Huffman went on to say: "Our approach to governance is that communities can set appropriate standards around language for themselves.

“Many communities have rules around speech that are more restrictive than our own, and we fully support those rules."

Many Reddit users were critical of Mr Huffman’s initial comments on the matter, prompting him to later clarify his position. 

“To be perfectly clear, while racism itself isn’t against the rules, it’s not welcome here. I try to stay neutral on most political topics, but this isn’t one of them,” he said in Reddit's comments section. 

Huffman explained Reddit does not regulate users speech because “the way in which we think about speech is to separate behaviour from beliefs.”

But many users argued hate speech did constitute racist behaviour and that communities on Reddit like the ‘r/The_Donald’ community, which organised the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year, was an example of this.

Alt Right demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Alt Right demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.
AAP

Reddit user ‘kitten cupcakes’ said: “You allowed r/the_donald to advertise for a fascist rally that culminated in a deadly terror attack,” referring to the fatal events in Charlottesville. 

Reddit has regulated racist and offensive groups during its 13-year existence, banning two high-profile white nationalist groups last year.

It has also banned groups named ‘CoonTown’ and ‘BeatingWomen’.

Reddit, the fourth most visited site in the US, calls itself “the front page of the internet”.

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