March 3, 2021

STATEMENT – Reddit Filled With Non-Consensual Pornography, Yet CEO Doubles Down on Allowing Porn 

NCOSE Says Reddit Must Institute Basic Safety Standards

Washington, DC (March 3, 2021) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is urging Reddit to institute basic safety standards for its users and people depicted in sexually explicit material, since Reddit continues to allow pornography on its site. Reddit was named to NCOSE’s 2021 Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation for being a “hub of exploitation.”

In a recent interview with Axios, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman asserted that allowing pornography would continue to be part of Reddit’s mission – and in the same breath conceding that “much of pornography is [exploitative.]” 

Investigative reports and NCOSE researchers have found countless subreddits (forums dedicated to specific topics on Reddit) normalizing and depicting incest, non-consensually recorded and/or shared images, pornography (much that could fall under federal obscenity laws), and prostitution promotion.  Many of the subreddits also normalize and even host child sexual abuse material.

“If Reddit insists on allowing pornography, it must verify the identity of the persons who upload these images or videos, along with the consent of anyone in pornographic images or videos. This should be standard operating procedure for any technology company, let alone one that allows pornography,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. 

“Reddit must better protect its users – particularly minors – from stumbling onto this explicit or even illegal content. Ironically, despite the CEO’s acknowledgement that much of pornography is exploitative, he hasn’t made any public effort to stem the harmful and abusive content on its site,” Nealon said.

Reddit – which doubled in value from $3 billion in 2019 to $6 billion in 2020 – relies on volunteer content moderators and hasn’t invested in technology widely used by other tech companies to identify and root out sexually exploitative material.

“Reddit’s 2020 profits should go into making the platform safer for all users. Reddit cannot continue to profit from exploitation and abuse,” Nealon added.  

NCOSE has requested Reddit to make the following changes: 

  1. verify consent of any posted images or videos  
  2. insist on documenting the identity of anyone uploading NSFW material  
  3. permanently ban users violating Reddit policies on CSAM and non-consensually recorded or shared intimate images
  4. invest in technology to scrape and remove harmful content 
  5. pay and train moderators to identify and remove exploitative material rather than relying on volunteer moderators 

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.

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