A Reddit community known for containing misogynist content that sometimes advocated sexual assault and violence against women has been shut down, after Reddit announced it was prohibiting content that incites violence.
The "Incels" subreddit was treated as a support group for men who call themselves "involuntarily celibate." The community's 40,000 members wrote posts about their lack of success in intimate relationships with women, but the discourse was far from an innocuous exchange of questions and advice.
The group's very existence stemmed from the notion that women owe men sexual relationships, and many posts focused on this idea; a recent post was entitled "Sex should be a human right." Others condoned rape, and recent posts have had titles including "Why women are the embodiment of evil" and "List of female rights that should be removed," a post that included the line "Their right to bodily integrity should be relinquished" as women are "the property of men."'
Members of the group referred to Elliot Rodger, the gunman who killed six people near the University of Santa Barbara in 2014, as a "hero" and a "saint." Before the massacre Rodger had written a 140-page manifesto and other documents that amounted to a call to arms against women; he referred to the incel community in his writings.
Reddit's new terms of service specify that content that "encourages, glorifies, incites or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or group of people" will not be permitted on the site.
"As of November 7, r/Incels has been banned for violating this policy," said Reddit in a statement on Wednesday.
The Incels subreddit is the latest Reddit community to be shut down as the site has tightened restrictions on violent content and harassment. The groups r/Altright and r/Alternativeright were banned earlier this year for publishing individuals' personal information without permission.
In an interview with the New York Times about the shut-down of the "Incel" community, Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, noted the overlap between alt right websites and the corners of the web frequented by misogynists. "Whether it is on this particular ecoystem or alternatively within the alt-right itself, [misogynist content] is part of the online world that has been growing very rapidly. Misogyny is shockingly frequent to find on the web in these areas.”