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Understanding the Behaviors of Toxic Accounts on Reddit

Deepak Kumar
Jeff Hancock
Zakir Durumeric


Toxic comments are the top form of hate and harassment experienced online. While many studies have investigated the types of toxic comments posted online, the effects that such content has on people, and the impact of potential defenses, no study has captured the behaviors of the accounts that post toxic comments or how such attacks are operationalized. In this paper, we present a measurement study of 929K accounts that post toxic comments on Reddit over an 18 month period. Combined, these accounts posted over 14 million toxic comments that encompass insults, identity attacks, threats of violence, and sexual harassment. We explore the impact that these accounts have on Reddit, the targeting strategies that abusive accounts adopt, and the distinct patterns that distinguish classes of abusive accounts. Our analysis informs the nuanced interventions needed to curb unwanted toxic behaviors online.