Reddit is implementing a new feature designed to protect users from spam, trolling and harassment. This is essentially an update to its existing blocking tool that now allows users to block and mute individuals that reply to comments alongside private messages.

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Reddit steps up to fight trolling

On several occasions, users receive unwanted or abusive comments, and the new tool will allow them to immediately block users making such comments with a simple click on the “Block User” button. Once this is done, from that point onward, everything from that user will be completely removed from view. In addition, the block is completely silent to the blocked user, which means they won’t know they have been blocked. Reddit hopes that its discretion will discourage users from creating multiple accounts in order to bypass the tool.

Posting the announcement on the site yesterday, Reddit cofounder Christopher Slowe said, “Our changes to user blocking are intended to let you decide what your boundaries are, and to give you the option to choose what you want — or don’t want — to be exposed to.”

A problem similar to Twitter

Reddit has a huge community, and a large portion of its community has been racist, misogynistic and downright nasty. For this reason, some of its forum has resulted in a huge controversy. A good example of this is former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao.

Pao resigned last year after she was incessantly trolled over the stance she took on regulation. In 2014, the site was in trouble because of a celeb photo hack in which users posted nude photos of celebrities that led to embarrassment for the victims.

The site has long been announcing that it intends to improve the experience of users, but despite this, the site is well-aware that its open and “democratic” nature is the reason for its huge popularity. This means that too much change could lead to the drifting away of its devoted user base. Like Twitter, Reddit is facing challenges in supporting freedom of expression without making the site unfriendly for users.

Speaking to The New York Times, Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian said that people generally do not like changes, and hence, they will do what is in the best interest of Reddit overall.