Reddit Has ‘Quarantined’ Popular Pro-Trump Thread Over Violent Threats

Reddit has restricted access to a popular pro-Trump community forum over threats of violence directed toward officials and police in Oregon, Reddit announced on Wednesday.

A screen capture of the warning that now accompanies Reddit’s “The_Donald” community thread.

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A screen capture of the warning that now accompanies Reddit’s “The_Donald” community thread.

Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet,” is restricting a forum that is wildly popular among some of President Trump’s core fans.

Officials with Reddit said Wednesday that a community on the message board called The Donald, which has around 750,000 followers and is known for its provocative content, is being “quarantined” over violations of its content policies.

Those violations, the company said, include threats of violence directed toward police and public officials in Oregon, where the Democratic governor has ordered the state police to look for Republican lawmakers who had fled the state in protest of a climate change bill.

The action against the so-called subreddit does not outright ban the forum, but it does warn visitors about the violations before accessing the messages and restricts how content from the community is shared across the site.

“We are clear in our site-wide policies that posting content that encourages or threatens violence is not allowed on Reddit,” a spokesman for the site told NPR. “As we have shared, we are sensitive to what could be considered political speech, however, recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy.”

The move is the latest instance of an online site attempting to strike a balance between free expression and curbing violent hate speech, as public pressure builds for sites and social media companies to clean up inflammatory content.

YouTube this month removed thousands of videos with white supremacist and other extremist content.

Even sites seemingly far away from partisan politics are grappling with the issue. Popular knitting and crocheting site Ravelry this week banned pro-Trump views on its site.

Back at Reddit, the thread the company punished describes itself as “a never-ending rally dedicated to the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump,” though experts who have monitored the forum’s content have said it has been a platform in which misogynistic, anti-Islam and white nationalist rhetoric is commonplace.

A meme President Trump tweeted last year depicting him as a professional wrestler closelining a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his head, which the president shared with the hashtag “FraudNewsCNN,” first appeared in the forum. And Trump himself answered questions in the community group, known on Reddit as an AMA, or “ask me anything,” when he was the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

On Wednesday, moderators of the forum tweeted, in response to the quarantine, that Reddit had “totally suppress” the community “on “the eve of the first Democratic debates.”

Popular threads on the subreddit on Wednesday, besides news of the quarantine, included a photo with a disparaging message of U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, whom Trump had criticized for refusing to visit the White House, a message celebrating Fox News’ ratings and a post attempting to undermine E. Jean Carroll, the author who recently claimed Trump sexually assaulted her.

The thread’s moderator framed the action as Reddit attempting to muzzle the community’s users.

“They already largely censored The_Donald from reaching the front page, but apparently that wasn’t enough. So they began looking for any reason to quarantine us,” a moderator of the forum tweeted.

Reddit says it has around 330 million active monthly users, making it the fifth most-visited site on the Internet.

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Senate Passes $4.6 Billion Emergency Border Funding Bill Signalling Battle With House

The Senate passed a $4.6 billion emergency humanitarian aid package Wednesday to cover the costs of the influx of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mark Tenally/Associated Press

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Mark Tenally/Associated Press

The Republican-led Senate passed its own version of an emergency aid measure, approving a $4.6 billion package to pay some of the costs of the surge of migrants crossing the southern border.

The vote Wednesday came minutes after the Senate handily rejected the Democratic-led House’s $4.5 billion bill passed Tuesday night, signalling what will likely be a contentious battle between the two chambers to reconcile the bills.

The work has taken on new urgency following reports from lawyers who visited facilities where unaccompanied children have been detained. The observers say they found sick, hungry children, who had not been given the means to wash themselves. The lawyers also said some older children were assigned to take care of younger ones who are not their relatives.

CBP has denied the conditions are that dire, but it did move some of the children out of a facility in Clint, Texas, over the past few days.

The Senate bill, which passed 84-8, includes funding for the Department of Defense and additional money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement that is not included in the House bill.

The spending package produced by the House seeks to establish restrictions that would prevent funds from going toward immigration enforcement and expanding Department of Homeland Security and migrant processing facilities by adding more beds.

Instead, the measure allocates money for agencies including the Office of Refugee Resettlement and Customs and Border Protection.

It also seeks to establish protocols to meet standards of care for migrants held in temporary emergency shelters, including food, water hygiene and basic medical care. And the legislation places caps on how long unaccompanied migrant children can stay in those facilities and places standards of care on government contractors operating detention facilities. Companies that fail to meet those standards would risk losing those government contracts.

President Trump was critical of the House bill in an interview on Fox Business Channel Wednesday, saying, “I’m not happy with it because there’s no money for protection. It’s like we’re running hospitals over there,” Trump said.

But later in the day, Trump said he had a good conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that he had also spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump said the talks left him optimistic that the chambers can reach a deal.

“It’s very far along and I believe the House is going to be getting together, hopefully they can get something done. It’s humanitarian aid, it’s very important,” he said.

On Monday the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement calling the House version a “partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe.”

Both chambers will now aim to work toward a bill that they can agree on before they break for July Fourth.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services says existing funding will not last through the end of the month.

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Trump Campaign Counter Programs Democratic Debate With Pricey YouTube Ad Buy

An add paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

via YouTube/Screenshot by NPR

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via YouTube/Screenshot by NPR

If you pull up YouTube for squirrels on water skis, the latest Taylor Swift music video or the Democratic debate Wednesday night, you’ll notice something prominently displayed at the top of the page — a banner ad paid for by the Trump campaign.

President Trump’s campaign is counter-programming the debate, and making a point — he’s president running for reelection while Democrats are running against each other.

“More people will see this than will watch the debate today,” said Daniel Hoffmann, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, a digital agency associated with Democrats that tracks social ad spending by political campaigns. “In our experience, we’ve seen the placement reach as many as 80 million Americans in a single day.”

The campaign purchased what’s known as the masthead on YouTube, the space at the top of the site’s main page. It’s an ad buy that can cost as much as $1 million for 24 hours of reaching every person who visits the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google.

The space is one of the most high-profile places to advertise online and is more commonly purchased for big movie premieres or brand launches than for politics.

Of course, this is a day when much of the political world’s attention will be on the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami, and people will inevitably turn to YouTube to find clips from the debate or to stream it live.

When they do that, they’ll see the Trump campaign banner ad at the top of the screen.

The Trump campaign declined to comment for this story. But in an interview earlier this year with Sinclair Broadcasting, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said he anticipated the re-election effort would cost $1 billion and as much as half of that would go toward digital spending.

This isn’t the first time the Trump campaign has purchased this prime advertising real estate on YouTube. It also did it during the government shutdown in January, using the space for messaging about border security.

The Trump ads on the YouTube masthead are rotating through various pitches — some encourage people to sign up to receive text messages from the campaign while others talk about immigration.

In fact, according to Bully Pulpit’s analysis, the Trump campaign has spent almost $550,000 on Facebook ads related to immigration since April 1. That doesn’t include today’s YouTube buy.

“It’s an issue they’ve clearly decided to go all in on,” Hoffmann said.

This is part of a larger Trump campaign strategy, spending big online, while the Democratic candidates are still at the early stages of trying to win the nomination. Trump’s online spending has dwarfed that of the Democratic candidates, at times, spending more than all the Democrats combined.

Bully Pulpit Interactive finds that Trump’s team has now invested $11.1 million on Facebook and Google/YouTube ads just since the first of the year.

“They are at their highest spending level of the quarter right now,” Hoffmann said.

All the Democratic candidates combined have spent $18.7 million so far this year.

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