Everyone’s joining the ban train

The bans are flowing.

Reddit banned r/The_Donald, r/ChapoTrapHouse, and 2,000+ other subreddits:

Reddit will ban r/The_Donald, r/ChapoTrapHouse, and about 2,000 other communities today after updating its content policy to more explicitly ban hate speech.

“I have to admit that I’ve struggled with balancing my values as an American, and around free speech and free expression, with my values and the company’s values around common human decency,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a call with reporters.

It’s almost as if people are realising that no one platform has an obligation to house abusive, degrading discussion.

That’s not incompatible with free speech.

Every discussion reaches an end point, for a time. That means platform holders do, at some point, get to say “Hey, you’ve been talking about this for a while now and we’ve decided that people shouldn’t be vilified or denigrated on the basis of their race. That’s the decision we’ve reached after your voluminous arguments here”.

That’s how the entirely fictional “marketplace of ideas” is supposed to work. People agitate for a point of view and, if they’re convincing, that point of view is codified in the policies and laws and moral code of a society. In the case of online chatter, those policies manifest as bans or community guidelines.

These things are never definitive and permanent. People will keep arguing that, hey, maybe people should be attacked on the basis of their race and those people may successfully convince major online platforms that those arguments should be allowed. They’ve certainly done a good job of it at the highest levels of government for a long, long time.

But, for now, the pendulum seems to be swinging ever-so-slightly away from that POV. It’s only taken years to get here.

Back to the bans.

Twitch has “temporarily” banned Donald Trump’s account:

Twitch has temporarily banned President Donald Trump, in the latest surprise and high-profile suspension from the streaming service. Trump’s account was banned for “hateful conduct” that was aired on stream, and Twitch says the offending content has now been removed.

This comes after Twitch permanently banned the massively popular Dr Disrespect for as-yet unknown reasons and swathes of other streamers over sexual abuse allegations. (There’s nothing to suggest that Disrespect’s ban falls into that category, though.

Meanwhile, the Indian Government has shut down a long list of Chinese-based apps:

The government of India has decided to ban 59 apps of Chinese origin as border tensions simmer in Ladakh after a violent, fatal face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies. The list of apps banned by the government includes TikTok, which is extremely popular.

A government press release announcing the ban stated: “The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking it’s power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 59 apps since in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

Others include ShareIt, Clash of Kings, WeChat, and UC Browser. Here’s a full list.

This is what it looks like when a government is really trying to limit what people say and where they say it.

Update

YouTube has removed five channels used by high-profile white nationalists in the US:

The removed accounts include those ​owned by far-right political entertainer Stefan Molyneux, white nationalist outlets American Renaissance and Radix Journal, as well as longtime Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. YouTube also removed two associated channels: one belonging to alt-right poster boy Richard Spencer and another hosting American Renaissance podcasts.