Reddit bans ‘The_Donald’ forum amid broad social media crackdown By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Reddit mascots are displayed at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco

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By Elizabeth Culliford and Katie Paul

(Reuters) – Social media site Reddit on Monday shut down r/The_Donald, a forum which long served as a popular online home base for fans of President Donald Trump, saying it violated the site’s hate speech rules.

Other sites also conducted high-profile sweeps: Amazon.com Inc’s (O:) live-streaming platform Twitch temporarily banned Trump’s official channel, saying it violated Twitch’s policy on hateful speech, while Google (NASDAQ:)’s YouTube suspended six leading white nationalist accounts.

Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman said in a post detailing changes to the company’s content policies that communities and users promoting hate would be barred. Reddit was banning about 2,000 subreddits, the majority of which were inactive, he said.

In response to the actions by Reddit and Twitch, a Trump campaign spokesman directed people to Trump’s campaign app “to hear directly from the president.” He did not directly address the sites’ actions.

Huffman said earlier this month that Reddit would strengthen its content policy, after Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the firm’s board and former CEO Ellen Pao criticized its handling of r/The_Donald.

Reddit had “quarantined” the forum last year, citing threats of violence.

The new list of banned subreddits also included the left-wing r/ChapoTrapHouse, which Huffman said consistently hosted rule-breaking content. It had an average of 42,949 daily active users, according to Reddit.

Reddit’s list showed r/The_Donald had an average of 7,780 daily active users, down from its heyday around the 2016 presidential election when it regularly drew hundreds of thousands of visitors each day.

Only about 200 of the banned forums listed by Reddit had more than 10 daily users.

“All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity,” Huffman said.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Social media companies’ content policies have been in the spotlight this month, as Facebook Inc (O:) faced an employee walkout and an ad boycott over its hands-off handling of inflammatory posts amid nationwide anti-racism protests and ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Earlier this month, Twitter Inc (N:) began placing some of Trump’s messages behind warning labels, while Snap Inc (N:) said it would no longer promote Trump’s account in its Discover section.

YouTube said Monday it was terminating six accounts widely credited with building support for far-right views online over hate speech violations, including channels run by Richard Spencer, Stefan Molyneux and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Molyneux tweeted in response that YouTube had suspended “the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known.” Spencer said he would appeal the decision.

Twitch, a site primarily used for video game livestreaming which Trump joined in October, said it had identified two streams from Trump’s account that violated its policies.

One was a rebroadcast of a 2016 rally in which Trump said Mexico was sending rapists to the United States. The other was of his rally in Tulsa earlier this month, when he hypothesized about a “very tough hombre” breaking into a woman’s house.

A Twitch spokeswoman said the platform had told “the president’s team” last year that there were no exceptions on the site for political or newsworthy content that broke its rules.

In May, Twitch announced a new advisory council to improve safety, focusing on areas like harassment and protection of marginalized groups.

Last week, it said it would begin issuing permanent suspensions as part of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment involving Twitch streamers.[L1N2CW0LE]





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Mnuchin says broad economic response to coronavirus will have to wait, backs smaller plan


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday a robust economic stimulus won’t be able to pass Congress quickly and threw his support behind a smaller measure designed to help small businesses and workers grappling with the coronavirus outbreak.

“The president very much wants to consider a stimulus bill, whether it is through a payroll tax or otherwise. We realize that may not get done this week, so we want to get done what we can do this week and we will come back,” Mnuchin said, during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Read: Would a payroll-tax cut work?

Mnuchin said the smaller measure was a little bit like disaster relief.

The measure would make sure that benefits get to small and medium-sized businesses. He said this was bipartisan legislation that could pass very quickly. Congress is scheduled to be on recess next week.

Meanwhile, House Democrats plan to unveil details of proposed legislation later Wednesday, lawmakers and aides said, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The House plans to vote on the measure Thursday.

“This is a little bit like a hurricane and we need to cover these outside-of-normal expenses,”Mnuchin said. That includes costs for workers who are required to self-quarantine.

The White House is also looking to include authorization to expand lending to small businesses, he added.

Mnuchin also confirmed reports the administration was planning to extend the April 15 tax-payment deadline for certain taxpayers and small businesses. This step doesn’t require congressional approval. The Treasury Secretary said pushing back some payments could add $200 billion of liquidity into the economy.

The Treasury Secretary told lawmakers the White House is looking to use loan guarantees to help the airline, hotel and cruise-line industries hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The president feels very strongly we need to protect industry,” Mnuchin said. These loan guarantees are not “bailouts,” he added.

There have been reports the White House also wanted to help oil, natural gase and shale companies, but Mnuchin only said “other” industries might be included.

U.S. equity benchmarks were lower Wednesday on investor disappointment that a broader package was not going to be forthcoming soon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -4.39%

  was down 880 points in morning trading.



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