Reddit banned a series of subreddits as part of an update to its content policy on 6 August Reuters

Social news site Reddit has updated its content policy, leading to the removal of forums that contain racist content. Under the new rules, other controversial forums, such as those containing images of dead children, will be allowed to remain.

Banned forums, known as subreddits, were removed if they were seen to "violate the spirit" of the new content policy, which prohibits content that threatens, harasses or bullies. Banned subreddits included /r/CoonTown, /r/WatchNiggersDie, /r/bestofcoontown, /r/koontown, /r/CoonTownMods and /r/CoonTownMeta.

Among the subreddits immune to the purge is /r/PicsOfDeadKids, which features images of dead babies and children. Previously, controversial subreddits were accessible to registered users who opted-in to see the content.

"Today we are releasing an update to our content policy," Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said in a post. "Our goal was to consolidate the various rules and policies that have accumulated over the years into a single set of guidelines we can point to.

"We are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last 10 years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations. I believe these policies strike the right balance."

Some Reddit users took the opportunity to criticise the bans, claiming that it went against the site's founding principles of free expression. Huffman justified the decision by revealing that Reddit's admins spent a "disproportionate amount of time" dealing with the banned communities.

"This is not the last time our policies will change, of course," Huffman said. "They will continue to evolve along with Reddit itself."