Reddit Bans Communities From Trading Drugs, Firearms, and Paid Sex Services

Reddit tells Inverse violators "will be banned from the site."

by Catie Keck

As Reddit continues its efforts to make its communities cleaner and safer spaces, the site announced this week that it had updated its content policy to forbid the trade of some goods and services, among them firearms and drugs. The company tells Inverse that the change went into effect Wednesday.

“As of March 21, 2018, we have made a new addition to our content policy forbidding transactions for certain classes of goods and services,” a Reddit spokesperson tells Inverse. “Moving forward, we are prohibiting transactions that are either illicit or strictly controlled. Communities focused on such transactions and users who attempt to conduct them will be banned from the site.”

In a post shared Wednesday on the r/announcements subreddit, the site said it would no longer allow any Reddit user to “solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services.” That list included firearms, ammunition, or explosives; drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with Reddit’s advertising policy); paid services involving physical sexual contact; stolen goods; personal information; and falsified official documents or currency.

When asked by Reddit user togsu Thursday why the company was lumping together both legal and illegal goods in its ban, the site responded: “Reddit is simply not set up to ensure that those legal conditions are being met. We’re all sad about what that means for some of our communities, but it’s the truth.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by the company in recent months that point to Reddit’s apparent house-cleaning efforts. In October of last year, Reddit banned hate speech subreddits, including r/Nazi, r/EuropeanNationalism, and r/far_right, to make the site’s “content policy better reflects our values as a company,” it said at the time. In February, it banned r/deepfakes, which birthed a genre of pornography that used A.I. technology to superimpose a celebrity’s face onto the body of a porn star.

The move may be a welcome one for many on the platform — but raises new concerns over safety for others.

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