Better late than never.
“No matter who you are, if a photograph, video, or digital image of you in a state of nudity, sexual excitement, or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, is posted or linked to on reddit without your permission, it is prohibited,” the company’s top executives wrote in a post. “We also recognize that violent personalized images are a form of harassment that we do not tolerate and we will remove them when notified.”
The changes, which are set to take effect on March 10, come almost exactly six months after Reddit found itself at the center of a media firestorm over a photo hack in which leaked nude images of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, among other celebrities, found their way onto the site.
In the days and weeks that followed, Reddit’s team struggled — and not for the first time in its nearly decade-long history — to deal with an influx of traffic and media criticism.
Then CEO Yishan Wong put out a confusing statement seemingly defending free speech on the site, noting that “every man is responsible for his own soul.”
At almost the exact same moment, the subgroup touting the images was taken down, adding to the confusion.
Wong later resigned abruptly from the company and was replaced by interim CEO Ellen Pao. Alexis Ohanian, a cofounder of the site, rejoined full-time as executive chairman.
“Last year, we missed a chance to be a leader in social media when it comes to protecting your privacy — something we’ve cared deeply about since reddit’s inception,” Ohanian and Pao wrote in the post explaining the changes Tuesday.
“At our recent all-hands company meeting, this was something that we all, as a company, decided we needed to address.”
For years, Reddit’s team has struggled to balance user demands for free speech with the reality of the unsavory content posted by a small set of its users.
“We’re doing our best to anticipate while also acknowledging that we can’t predict the future, only do our best to address it when it happens,” Ohanian said to Mashable about his plans for dealing with offensive content shortly after he returned to the company. Since then, Ohanian has tried to be transparent and outspoken about the need for Reddit to create a safe community experience for all users.
The new privacy guidelines create a framework to deal with some of the most offensive content from its users, but weeding through the complaints of a community nearly 200 million strong will certainly take more than guidelines.