TheFappening, a new subreddit that became the unofficial hub for the cache of nude celebrity photos revealed last week, has been banned and shut down by Reddit. In a statement published on its official blog, a representative for the company said that "we deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution." Visitors to the subreddit are now greeted with the warning image above.
After the initial leak of hundreds of nude celebrity photos online through 4Chan, TheFappening emerged as a distribution center for the stolen photos. Reddit has been silent on the matter for over a week, but now a lengthy post by a Reddit employee explains what has been going on inside the company. At first, Reddit did not decide to ban the subreddit; instead the company responded to DMCA requests and took down private photos hosted on its servers as required by law.
"We deplore the theft of these images."
However, it appears that there was a split within the company between those who thought the company should take a hands-off approach, and those who believed they had a moral duty to shut down the subreddit. Pressure to shut down the subreddit entirely intensified once it was discovered that pictures of gymnast McKayla Maroney and actress Liz Lee were taken before they came of age.
Reddit moved quickly to remove links to and thumbnails of the offending photos, but users continued to repost the images as soon as they were removed. It seems that this game of whack-a-mole forced Reddit's hand and directly led to the decision to ban the subreddit.
Reddit does note in a blog post that this decision does not change its stance on restricting content posted on the site. The site has traditionally taken a very hands-off approach towards moderation, as it views its communities as a type of open forum.