Reddit is cracking down on gun, alcohol, and tobacco sales by banning dozens of communities

Reddit is cracking down on community marketplaces. 

The forth largest site on the web announced that it would ban transactions for illegal sales, including firearms, drugs, fake ID’s, and sex on Wednesday. A post on r/Announcements states that “Reddit is not intended to be used as a marketplace” and reminds users that they are “dealing with strangers on the internet.” 

Although the ban targets illegal trades like those facilitated in r/DarkNetMarkets — which kept tabs on items for sale on the dark web — some relatively innocuous subreddits were also shut down. 

According to the post, r/beertrade, a community for swapping local brews internationally, was banned “due to the controlled nature of alcohol” because “Reddit is not built to ensure that the sales are happening legally.” 

Other banned communities include r/cigarmarket, r/scotchswap, r/gunsforsale, r/airsoftmarket, r/stealing, r/shoplifting, which Mashable profiled last year.

Even if monetary sales aren’t involved, all transactions of illegal goods fall under Reddit’s new policy. In a comment under the announcement, Reddit’s day-old policy account said “this rule does still encompass trades or exchanges where no money is changing hands.” Reddit’s policy updates usually come from personal accounts, like CEO Steve Huffman’s u/spez. 

r/SexSells, a subreddit for “buying every adult item and service available on Reddit … no matter your kink, fetish, or desires” is still safe. The community’s sidebar explicitly states that selling physical contact of any kind is banned, so Reddit’s new rules don’t apply. In other words, yes, people can still buy nudes and used panties on Reddit. 

Giveaways, like those featured on r/ElectronicCigarette, will also be shut down. Accessories for products like for hookahs aren’t affected, but any exchanges for tobacco, which is federally regulated, are banned.

Here’s a list of newly banned communities, rounded up by u/ThaddeusJP.

Some redditors were pretty upset by the new changes. As u/Dcoil1 pointed out, the site has been lax on dealing with hate speech on r/The_Donald, a subreddit for Trump supporters that was allegedly infiltrated by Russian trolls ahead of  the election, so some of the policy updates seem unnecessary compared to the changes that Redditors actually want to see. 

Regardless of what redditors want, Reddit is likely protecting itself from a visit from the ATF over some of the trades that were being facilitated on its site.

The policy overhaul follows a steady flow of community bans. Last month, Reddit banned r/deepfakes, a subreddit known for using AI to nonconsensually stitch celebrity faces on hardcore porn. In 2017, Reddit also shut down a number of Nazi sympathizing subreddits.

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