Reddit's bread and butter may be links and comments, but the site has a long history as a facilitator of gift swaps and a backwoods marketplace. New site rules enacted today make much of that behaviour prohibited.
A post in Reddit's site announcements community (aptly titled r/announcements) states:
As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including:
- Firearms, ammunition, or explosives;
- Drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with our advertising policy);
- Paid services involving physical sexual contact;
- Stolen goods;
- Personal information;
- Falsified official documents or currency
It's unclear how much of this illicit activity was actually going on within Reddit, though it seems enough for it to be codified as a new content policy. Recently, new site rules have been rolled out in advance of (or in conjunction with) small-scale community bans, which so far have affected subreddits organised around such charming subjects as bestiality, ethno-nationalism and drug-buying.
In the comments of the announcement, it was further clarified that relatively benign activities such as beer trades and e-cigarette giveaways are also likely to fall under the purview of this rule, which encompasses not just purchases but transactions of any sort. While "paid services involving physical sexual contact" are now against policy (and likely US state or federal law), the use of Reddit to facilitate the purchase of sexually explicit photos and videos remains unscathed, to the relief of the site's many horndogs, one imagines.
Affected communities so far include the more above-board r/beertrade, r/cigarmarket and r/scotchswap, as well as r/gunsforsale, r/airsoftmarket, r/shoplifting, r/stealing and r/DarkNetMarkets, a community that informed its tens of thousands of users of (often illegal) items for sale on dark web marketplaces.
This rule change arrives as Reddit - the fourth most-visited site in the US - prepares to overhaul its ageing design and change a number of its features.
Reddit employees who interact with the community for clarifications and rule announcements do so pseudonymously, but typically from their personal site accounts - and while some aliases, such as CEO Steve Huffman's u/spez monicker, are widely known by the community, many are not. Interestingly, this new rule change comes via a day-old account simply named u/Reddit-Policy.