Frenworld was a subreddit in which Redditors submitted illustrations of the Pepe the Frog variant Apu Apustaja in posts written in childlike speech, such as using the word fren in place of “friend.” While many of the posts submitted to /r/Frenworld contained what appeared to be wholesome content, many accused the community members of using dogwhistles to promote bigotry and violence. The subreddit was banned in June 2019 for violating Reddit’s content guidelines.
On September 10th, 2018, the /r/frenworld subreddit was launched by Redditor FoxDieEeE. Over the next nine months, the subreddit accumulated upwards of 60,000 subscribers.
On May 2nd, 2019, Redditor SkynetJusticeWarri0r posted in the /r/TopMindsOfReddit subreddit “r/FrenWorld is a look into just how acceptable and prevalent white nationalism and bigotry is on reddit. And the Top Minds are simply their useful idiots.” In the thread, the Redditor posted a series of links to examples of bigotry on /r/frenworld. They write:
To the average user of reddit there is nothing wrong with engaging in any sort of bigotry or hate speech – but the real crime is when the ‘SJWs’ call it out for what it is.
The fact of the matter always remains, edgelords begin adopting certain memes and phrases simply for the reason that they are associated with white nationalism and the alt-right. These same people then become up in arms when they get called out for being an integral component in enabling and promoting these dog whistles and the associated bigotry.
The post continues explaining many of the coded phrases and memes, known as “dog whistles,” that express white supremacist viewpoints, including the term “frens,” which is used to identify “fellow racists, bigots, white supremacists and the alt-right” on the subreddit, according to the post. Finally, the thread lays out a list of bigotted memes that include references to the Holocaust, the 2019 Christ Church Mosque shootings, the Ku Klux Klan and more. Within two months, the post received more than 11,000 points (83% upvoted) and 2,100 comments.
On May 4th, 2019 Twitter user @BrianneandMatt tweeted a “Frenpill” image, stating “this post, really make my fash alarms go off” (shown below).
June 2019 Ban
On June 20th, 2019, the subreddit was banned by Reddit administrators and a notice was placed on the page indicating that it had been removed for “content that glorifies or encourages violence.”
That day, reporter Will Sommer tweeted about the subreddit, stating that it “featured racist and anti-Semitic Pepe the Frog-style cartoons” (shown below).
Meanwhile, Redditor -MostDownVoted- submitted a post asking for details about the subreddit’s removal to /r/OutOfTheLoop, where it gathered more than 5,900 points (93% upvoted) and 1,200 comments within 20 hours. In the comments section, many posters referenced dog whistles on the subreddit, such as referring to Jewish people as “nose-frens,” referencing the Despite Being 13% and using the word “bop” when referring to violence. That same day, IGN Forums member Steelknight47 submitted a thread criticizing the ban titled “SJW Reddit mods banned r/frenworld and affiliate Pepe sub-forums.”