Friday, October 28, 2016


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Reddit has been one of the most popular social media sites on the internet since its founding 10 years ago. That could be changing.

In circumstances best described as contentious, Ellen Pao was installed as the company’s “interim” CEO in November. In May, Pao introduced Reddit’s first ever anti-harassment policy. Soon people began to notice things like news stories being deleted from the site, and posts disappearing for no immediately apparent reason.

Redditors were quick to come up with theories, though. Nicknaming the new CEO “Chairman Pao,” many users of the site posited that Pao was instructing moderators on the site to push the political agenda of “social justice warriors,” a term referring to left-wing advocates of extreme identity politics masquerading as a tolerance movement.

The theory seemed solid, given that Pao previously rose to fame by suing a prominent Silicon Valley firm for gender discrimination, and losing. The sordid details of the case painted Pao as someone aggressively pursuing victim status, merited or not.

Pao seemed to confirm these theories when she came out on May 20 and declared Reddit was not a free speech platform, and would be a “safe space.” References to “chairman Pao” were systematically deleted.

On June 10th, the moderators of Reddit, acting under the anti-harassment policy, shut down several popular sub-reddits (the site’s name for dedicated discussion groups), including one called “r/fatpeoplehate,” which was at the time the 13th most popular sub-reddit on the site. The group was admittedly devoted to fat shaming and fighting against the rise of fat acceptance in society.

Breitbart’s post on the subject quickly sparked a #RedditRevolt twitter hashtag, and popular writer and #GamerGate supporter Milo Yiannopoulis helped get the #GamerGate group involved. With the help of the dedicated #GamerGaters, #RedditRevolt went over 10,000 mentions in its first day.

Reddit’s actions were immediately compared to the demise of content aggregator and social site Digg, which followed a similar pattern of pushing out its userbase. Ironically, Reddit was one of the major reasons Digg lost its eminence as an aggregator.

Another similar development occurred on the infamous 4Chan message boards with the #GamerGate movement. 4chan allowed anonymous posting, and was a hotbed of #GamerGate activity until the site’s powers-that-be declared it to be a #GamerGate free zone. The movement simply switched to 8chan, and 4chan lost significant traffic – and thus revenue.

In point of fact, the #GamerGate movement has been extraordinarily successful at hitting websites in the pocketbook. Given their track record, and the vibe of history repeating itself, Reddit’s days as an internet juggernaut could be numbered.

There are some arguing that the purge of this content is for the good – including one of Reddit’s co-founders. So which is it? Let us know in the comments which is more important – free speech for users, or safe spaces for other users.



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Net Neutrality

Commenters on the popular forum Reddit were left shocked after the release of a study by the Sunlight Foundation proving that one group, American Commitment, was able to organize nearly 800,000 public comments to the Federal Communications Commission opposing regulation of the Internet.

Reddit was an official participant in the “Battle for the Net” which supported Internet regulation.

Reddit fans, known for their mob mentality were quick to question the report despite the facts presented in the report.

One Redditter, K7Avender, commented, “How could they by themselves have gotten more comments than the popular social medias combined? How could there be more comments by people who don’t understand the internet—who barely use the internet—than comments by people who do understand the internet and who use it the most?”

Another comment of the 1,300+ on this single thread piled on the stereotype that the people opposed Net Neutrality are essentially luddites:

“You don’t need bots when you can use a few well chosen trigger words to mobilize an army of the ill-informed. They may not know much of anything about the internet, but they sure as hell don’t want ‘Obama to regulate and tax it.’”

As the comments scrolled on, one post by KBassma made it clear why Reddit fans are so passionate about the issue, “I am only as smart and as well read as I am because of the internet. If I lose it I lose myself.”


In reading through just a portion of the 1,300 posts, a dominant theme began to form.

The supporters of Net Neutrality on Reddit have no clue what they’re talking about.

Some claim that censorship will be increased if the government DOESN’T take control of the Internet. Huh?

Others cite the well known “fast lane” argument yet would prefer advancement of Internet technology be left for the approval of government bureaucrats.

Few Reddit users can come to the simple realization that restricting the Internet under telecom regulations from the 1930’s may actually harm their ability to watch cat videos on YouTube.

In the event that President Obama is able to ram through Net Neutrality, Americans can expect innovation and advances of broadband delivery to come to a screeching halt.

Under the same Title II regulations that the President is pushing for the Internet, Caller ID took seven years to approve.

Would the left-leaning lovers of the Internet have accepted a seven-year delay to incorporate voice chat into their World of Warcraft sessions?

While many Reddit users enjoy using their time to whine amongst themselves in between eating Cheetos in their mother’s basement and producing low-quality cat videos, they should take time to educate themselves on this debate before they have a hand in destroying the thing they love the most.



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