Reddit Reluctantly Bans Child PornS

Metastasized Xbox fan message board Reddit is a little less pervy this morning after it explicitly banned all "suggestive or sexual content featuring minors," aka child porn. Only took six years and a couple public scandals.

At least Reddit let kiddie porn fans down easy. "We… do not make this policy change lightly, or without careful deliberation," Reddit administrators wrote in a blog post last night announcing the decision. Oh, to be an invisible nickname in the chat room where administrators debated whether or not it was a good thing to ban child porn.

The change comes after Reddit was faced with yet another embarrassing outcry over the pedophile subsections that users kept creating on the site, with administrators' passive consent. This time, it was "preteen_girls," which featured images of 11 year-old girls in bikinis and captions like "waiting for the load." In one thread about "foreign films with child nudity" a user appears to have posted a screenshot of a naked underaged girl from a banned film, which users quickly notified administrators about.

In response, the message board Something Awful launched a campaign to point out that Reddit still hosted a vibrant pedophile scene. (I got about a half-dozen emails with the same copy-pasted call to action.) And Reddit responded with an explicit ban on sexy pics of kids.

Previously, Reddit admins had dealt with its recurring child porn problem on a case-by-case basis. In each case, they determined whether it would cause enough public outcry to force them to pretend to do something. We had suggested a ban on sections dedicated to pedophilia bait after users on the popular "Jailbait" section were caught openly trading child porn of a 14-year-old girl last. Instead, Reddit administrators quietly shut down Jailbait, which had 20,000 subscribers—but only after Anderson Cooper dedicated a segment to it. Jailbait alternatives quickly sprung up. The new policy guarantees there will be no more Jailbait knock-offs.

You've got to give Reddit administrators credit for being consistent in defending its users' freedom to creep on children. Jailbait was long celebrated as a symbol of Reddit's tolerance of controversial content—it won the "best of Reddit" 2008 poll 2-to-1 over a section dedicated to counseling suicidal people. And you could hear Reddit's admins' heartbreak in their blog post, lamenting the "necessary policy change" to avoid getting stuck in a "legal quagmire."

"Child pornography is a toxic and unique case for Internet communities," they wrote. "And we're protecting reddit's ability to operate by removing this threat."

That sentence excellently sums up the problem with the powerful hive mind spawned by Reddit, which has recently been praised widely for its role in helping to defeat SOPA. On Reddit, the entire universe is seen from the dementedly rational perspective of the white male geeks who created and dominate it. Humanity drops away, and exploiting kids is bad only to the extent it impinges on these dudes' freedom to talk about video games.

[Image by Jim Cooke, source image by Richard Laschon/Shutterstock]