Forums containing images of dead children, racist content and hate speech will remain on Reddit but will be more difficult to find, the social news site's new CEO has announced.

Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman, who was appointed the website's CEO on 10 July, revealed that offensive material would remain in order to keep to Reddit's free speech principles, however illegal content such as child pornography will continue to be banned.

"We believe there is value in letting all views exist, even if we find some of them abhorrent, as long as they don't pollute people's enjoyment of the site," Huffman said in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.

"No company is perfect at addressing these hard issues. We've spent the last few days here discussing and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don't want to associate with the business, but gives individuals the chance to consume it if they choose."

Under Reddit's new policy, controversial subreddits will only be accessible to registered users who opt-in to see the content. These include the anti-semitic /r/GasTheKikes, the racist platform /r/CoonTown and /r/PicsOfDeadKids.

In a purge that saw a number of other subreddits removed from the site, former CEO Ellen Pao explained why /r/CoonTown still remained active.

"We're banning behaviour, not ideas," Pao said. "While we don't agree with the content of the subreddit, we don't have reports of it harassing individuals."

Ellen Pao
A petition calling for Reddit CEO Ellen Pao\'s resignation had more than 200,000 supporters Reuters

Pao resigned earlier this month as CEO after more than 200,000 people signed an online petition demanding she step down. The organisers of the petition claimed that by banning the subreddit /r/FatPeopleHate, Pao had gone against the site's core values.

"The new changes and new policies [under Pao] are in no doubt censorship which panders to a vocal minority," the petition stated.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post following her resignation, Pao made counter claims that a vocal minority of "trolls" were being allowed to openly harass minorities in the name of free speech.

"Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the internet," Pao wrote. "But the balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.

"The foundations of the internet were laid on free expression, but the founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the co-ordination and amplification of harassing behaviour."