Reddit on Monday announced that it was terminating what was once one of the largest pro-Trump forums on the internet.
The forum or “subreddit” was “The_Donald,” the most popular page on the site for Trump supporters. But in recent months, after being placed under tight restrictions by Reddit, its activity had fallen off almost entirely.
For years, The_Donald served as a community of Trump fans and an incubator of memes, attacks and strategy — some of which ended up on the President’s Twitter account.
In a statement, Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman said the page was banned for consistently violating the site’s “Rule 1,” which prohibits “communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”
The_Donald also violated the site’s rules against spamming and other attempts to undermine the platform’s integrity, Huffman said.
“All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith,” Huffman said. “We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity.”
The_Donald was one of about 2,000 subreddits banned Monday, though Huffman said only about 200 had more than 10 daily users. One of those was the subreddit for the popular socialist podcast Chapo Trap House, which “consistently host[ed] rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community,” Huffman said.
The_Donald had been on thin ice for a while: A year ago, Reddit had “quarantined” the page, putting it behind an “opt-in” screen that required viewers to affirm they wanted to see its content.
That move came after Media Matters tracked posts on the page that discussed attacking law enforcement officers in Oregon. (The officers were said to be looking for conservative members of the Oregon legislature who’d gone briefly into hiding in order to prevent the quorum needed to vote on a piece of climate change legislation.)
Before that, Reddit changed its ranking algorithm — which draws posts from each subreddit onto the website’s main page, based on popularity — in part as a result of The_Donald’s behavior.
In short, The_Donald was so relentlessly self-promoting that it routinely dominated Reddit’s front page — so much so that content from other communities, from cat photos to celebrity interviews, had been marginalized. (Sound familiar?)
The change “to prevent any one community from dominating the listing” was not targeted specifically at The_Donald, Huffman said at the time — but, he added, “I cannot deny their behavior hastened its deployment.”
The subreddit wasn’t just for Trump’s supporters — it was also for White House officials.
Politico reported last year that Dan Scavino, the Trump assistant and White House social media guru, regularly checked Reddit — “with a particular focus on the pro-Trump /r/The_Donald channel.”
That’s because the subreddit was home to a number of now-famous meme makers, who re-mixed videos to compliment “God Emperor” Trump, as he was frequently called on the forum — or, just as often, to attack his opponents.
In 2017, The Atlantic noted that a then-shocking meme that Trump had posted on his Twitter account — of himself during a pro-wrestling event, body slamming someone with a CNN logo as a head — had originated on The_Donald.
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