A handful of subreddits have classified themselves as not safe for work (NSFW) to protest Reddit’s recent treatment of the platform’s volunteer moderators, and as a result, some non-porn communities are starting to get a lot of porn.
More than 8,000 subreddits went dark last week in protest of the company’s API pricing changes that are set to shut down popular third-party apps. But as the protests went on, Reddit started to push back. In an interview with The Verge, CEO Steve Huffman said that, while the platform allows the protests, “the users are not in support of it now. It’s like a protest in a city that goes on too long, and the rest of the citizens of the city would like to go about their lives.” In an interview with NBC News, Huffman characterized moderators as “landed gentry.” And some mods have felt threatened by messages sent to them by the company.
Thousands of subreddits have reopened; one tracker indicates only about 3,300 remain private or restricted. But switching to NSFW creates a new level of friction in reopened communities.
Users must agree to being at least 18 years old before they can view the subreddit. On mobile, users cannot access NSFW subreddits unless they are logged in to the mobile app — and as part of the company’s changes to its data API, Reddit will limit access to “mature content,” meaning that third-party developers won’t be able to show that content in their apps. And switching to NSFW might also create some pain for Reddit itself, as NSFW subreddits are not eligible for advertising.
Subreddits don’t have to allow porn to be considered NSFW; Reddit defines things that should be tagged as NSFW as containing “nudity, pornography, or profanity” that “a reasonable viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as in a workplace.” The rules do not explicitly tell users when not to mark something as NSFW.
Subreddits that have made the NSFW switch include r/interestingasfuck, r/TIHI (Thanks I Hate It), r/formula1, r/videos, r/HomeKit, and r/HomePod.
Other subreddits that aren’t explicitly NSFW have loosened their rules such that users are posting porn and inappropriate content anyway, including r/iOS, r/simpsonsshitposting, and r/Wellthatsucks.