Reddit has officially banned the R/DarkNetMarkets and other communities dedicated to illegal dark web markets. Users attempting to access the community will simply be met with a message stating that the subreddit has been banned due to a violation of Reddit’s community standards.
Prior to the ban, the subreddit had 160,000 readers, but it remained a controversial part of the wider Reddit community. This was mainly due to the fact that the subreddit’s users were not shy about the fact that they made use of Silk Road and other dark web black markets to buy drugs, guns, and other illegal goods. In fact, law enforcement would often browse the community in hopes of gathering evidence of crimes. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security went so far as to subpoena Reddit for information regarding some of the community’s members.
The ban is part of Reddit’s recent crackdown on illegal activity taking place on the site. On Wednesday, Reddit updated its community guidelines to prohibit users from using the site to “solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services.” This list included, among other things, drugs, guns, and prostitution.
In a statement to Motherboard, Reddit confirmed that the ban was, indeed, part of its increased efforts to root out illegal activity on the site.
“Moving forward, we are prohibiting transactions that are either illicit or strictly controlled,” the statement reads. “Communities focused on such transactions and users who attempt to conduct them will be banned from the site.”
Similar subreddits have also been banned following the implementation of this new policy.
Subreddits such as DarkNetMarkets and others like it are nothing new, but Reddit’s recent crackdown is. The reasoning behind this stricter stance is likely the same reason that Craigslist shut down its Personals section. The Senate recently approved the FOSTA bill, which allows the government to hold websites accountable for the actions of their community members. Since Craigslist’s Personals section was sometimes used to facilitate prostitution, the company decided to remove it completely. It is likely that Reddit was motivated by similar concerns when it decided to shut down communities dedicated to illegal goods.