Reddit can be a fun website where users discuss niche topics with others who share their interests. However a new analysis of over two billion posts and comments on the platform has revealed an alarming amount of hate speech, harassment and cyberbullying.
Hind Almerekhi at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar and her colleagues gathered a data set of Reddit posts and their comments from between 2005 and 2020. They looked at any Reddit user who has posted on one of the 100 most popular subreddits – akin to forums on the site – as well as another subreddit. That filtering resulted in a total of 2.2 billion posts and comments from 1.2 million users across more than 100,000 subreddits.
They found that 16.11 per cent of users publish toxic posts and 13.28 per cent of users post toxic comments. 30.68 per cent of users who posted and 81.67 per cent of users who posted comments adapted how toxic they were in different subreddits.
Additionally, the more communities a user is a part of, the higher the toxicity of their content.
The authors propose a way of limiting hate speech on the site could be to restrict the number of subreddits each user can post in.
Gently warning Twitter users that they might face consequences if they continue to use hateful language can have a positive impact, according to new research.
A Reddit spokesperson told New Scientist: “The study in question confirms our own research and insights: that the vast majority of content on Reddit is healthy, and users tend to positively adjust their behaviour in accordance with community norms.” They added that some of the data was approaching 20 years old so does not encapsulate how Reddit’s policies on speech have changed.
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