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Reddit changes its tune, bans sexually suggestive images of minors

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Mind you, the original tune wasn't "please bring your child pornography here to our popular website." Rather, the aggregator's policy was one of extreme non-interference; its creators were loathe to police the content of the site in order to allow its users a truly open platform. As anyone who knows anything about the internet can guess, this led to a large amount of "objectionable content," the most troubling of which could arguably be called child pornography. (Or maybe "child pornography lite.") Take, for instance, the subreddit /jailbait, which is pretty much what it sounds like — sharing suggestive, if not explicit, images of minors taken mostly from social networking sites. (There are others, of course, like the delightfully named "truejailbait" and "preteen_girls." I'll wait while you puke a little.)

And while Reddit did police outright illegal content, and worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when it was necessary, many people still bristled about the clear sexualization of minors that was allowed on the site. And yesterday, Reddit finally acquiesced to those critics and changed their policy, announcing the move in a post:

At reddit we care deeply about not imposing ours or anyone else's opinions on how people use the reddit platform. We are adamant about not limiting the ability to use the reddit platform even when we do not ourselves agree with or condone a specific use. We have very few rules here on reddit; no spamming, no cheating, no personal info, nothing illegal, and no interfering the site's functions. Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.

Of course, the administrators aren't stupid; they know that some Reddit users, even if they dislike the threads like /jailbait, will think of this as something of a betrayal. It's the slippery-slope argument: if you police this, where does it stop? (I would argue it stops at the sexualization of minors, but what do I know?) The admins took pains to note that they were aware of this issue:

We understand that this might make some of you worried about the slippery slope from banning one specific type of content to banning other types of content. We're concerned about that too, and do not make this policy change lightly or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal.

The response, at least in the replies to the post itself, looks mixed: some people are applauding the move, some people are shrugging their shoulders, and some are pointing out possible far-flung implications of the change (one user asked if pictures from Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet are banned, as the two leads are under eighteen and appear semi-nude). And as abhorrent as I find something like /jailbait to be, such a policy will always cause some people to balk when it's perfectly acceptable to have a sixteen-year-old Dakota Fanning get clearly sexualized in something like The Runaways. The policy is, obviously, extremely new, so we'll see how it shakes out. Do you think Reddit made the right move?