The internet is a terrible place, and the platforms that control the internet seem to only make it worse.
Today, we have a report from Motherboard that details the top post on a very popular subreddit called r/Drama. The post reportedly linked to a video that showed a person killing himself–and was reportedly taken down after nine hours of being online. However, the same video remains the top post on another, more grisly subreddit called r/WatchPeopleDie. (I highly discourage anyone from visiting this awful online destination.)
Whether or not the video is real, Reddit does have clear rules against content that “encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people.” This video sure seems to fit that bill. Why it remains on one subreddit after being removed from another is unclear. Reddit did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the suicide post or the WatchPeopleDie subreddit.
WatchPeopleDie offers exactly what it advertises: videos of people dying. It has over 300,000 subscribers. The suicide post, which is currently at the top, is titled “Teenager waves bye, then Blows head off with shotgun on YouTube Live.” The post below it is called “Passenger killed when a car hits an ambulance.” Given this horrific content, this entire destination seems to go directly against the Reddit rule to not encourage violence against individuals.
Reddit has been trying to clean up its act and seem more mainstream. In a recent New Yorker profile, CEO Steve Huffman discussed how the company is trying to evolve beyond its questionable reputation and prove itself a viable business for advertisers. Despite that narrative, examples like these show how dark Reddit and parts of its community remain.
To its credit, Reddit has started to ban overtly hateful and harassing groups, like r/FatPeopleHate and r/KillTheJews. It recently banned another group called r/NoMorals that also depicted disturbing images of dead people, children, and animals.
However, as Motherboard writes, the people who visit WatchPeopleDie consider it different from these other subreddits, because it’s purpose is to help people realize “just how fragile human life truly is.” I’m not sure how this suicide video does that, but Reddit has long been known as a company that gives extra latitude to people claiming free speech.