However, these efforts are not enough to shelter what is arguably Reddit’s single largest source of hate speech: r/The_Donald.

This subreddit was set up early in the 2016 US presidential primaries and quickly became the web’s largest fansite for nominee Donald Trump. It has played host to a wide range of false conspiracy theories, such as the infamous Pizzagate debacle and the accusation that the Clintons murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. The subreddit is also a well-known hub for violent content, with calls for “violence and genocide, extreme racism, doxxing, harassment, and site-wide rule breaking.” In the last month, its users have called for “right-wing death squads” and school-shooting survivor David Hogg to be “hanged.”

In an AMA (Ask Me Anything, in which celebrities field questions from Redditors) late last year, Reddit CEO Steve “spez” Huffman insisted that r/The_Donald’s volunteer moderators adequately cooperate with Reddit’s administrators, deleting violent or otherwise rule-breaking content when asked. When pointed toward a list of dozens of instances where this had not occurred, he responded that these posts had not been reported to the moderators, and so had not been flagged as a problem. This raises the question of whether volunteer moderators and users of r/The_Donald can be relied upon to police their own content.

However, there are limits to the kinds of behavior Reddit will tolerate. r/altright, r/WhiteRights, and r/coontown, all home to racism and extremism of various kinds, have been banned, either as a result of targeted harassment against other users, doxxing outsiders, or posting violent content. Two more well-known hubs for hate speech, r/European and r/uncensorednews, were banned in March for similar reasons.

However, despite containing much of the same content, r/The_Donald remains operational —but off the whitelist. It’s controversial enough for Reddit to not want ads anywhere near it, but not enough for it to be banned.

Why? The answer might be business pragmatism.

Why r/The_Donald hasn’t been fired

The banned subreddits were all small and mostly off the whitelist. This meant there was minimal community backlash when they were removed, and they brought in relatively little revenue. r/The_Donald, on the other hand, currently has nearly 600,000 subscribers. Even though ads aren’t being served, users from r/The_Donald still buy Reddit gold, and they also bring in ad revenue when they click away from that subreddit and go elsewhere on the site that does serve ads.

The users of r/stopadvertising argue that Reddit is actively sheltering r/The_Donald’s hate speech: They won’t ban it outright like the other violent subreddits because it brings in so many people to the site. Reddit might not make money from ads on the subreddit itself, but by keeping its community on the platform, they continue to benefit financially in other ways.

Moreover, by preventing ads from appearing on r/The_Donald, it becomes much harder for activists like r/stopadvertising to put pressure on Reddit to ban hate communities. Because users can no longer point to adverts appearing directly alongside violent content, it’s tougher to encourage advertisers to pull out of the site entirely.

It gets worse. Not only this, but for users who are subscribed to r/The_Donald (or any other non-whitelisted subreddit), any page they view that contains a single post from these subreddits will also be ad-free. This means that users who peruse these kinds of communities regularly and have posts from these communities on their “front page” spend much of their time living in an ad-free bubble, their server time paid for by the ads clicked on by all other Redditors. In this way, r/The_Donald is indirectly forcing other users to subsidize its existence.

“There are a vast number of communities on Reddit that are not eligible for advertising and thus trigger advertising restrictions when that content appears elsewhere on the site,” said a spokesperson for the online forum.

Despite this, r/stopadvertising continues to document instances in which adverts are appearing next to content that is hateful or borderline violent elsewhere on the site.

Reddit continues to host a community that posts hateful and violent content on a daily basis. Because of this, Reddit continues to make money from hosting hate speech, as the traffic it brings in brings leads to clicks on ads elsewhere on the site—not to mention inflating their site-visit stats to enable a higher price for the ads in the first place.

When so many other communities guilty of far less have been purged from the site, why isn’t r/The_Donald gone yet? Based on the administration’s past behavior, they’ll only ban it when it becomes financially beneficial to do so.

Correction: This article has been updated to include reference to banned subreddits that Reddit has taken action to remove; clarified that Reddit gold is not a substantial revenue source; and has removed references to Reddit condoning the alt-right.

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