Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reddit: NOT The Front Page of the Internet

Description: A white man yelling and  pointing directly
at the viewer
Reddit, a discussion website with thousands of active sub-forums, bills itself as "the front page of the Internet". But as writer Samantha Allen puts it, Reddit isn't exactly the front page of the Internet for everyone, but rather the front page for a very specific kind of audience that is "mostly young and mostly male". As she puts it:

Reddit is not so much the generic front page of the Internet as it is its spacious, tricked-out man cave: a lot of people can fit inside, but only some people feel comfortable hanging out there. 
...Reddit became a web destination and a traffic powerhouse by virtue of the clicking, viewing, and typing habits of a relatively narrow subsection of Internet users. Seventy-four percent of Reddit users are men, the highest of any social networking website. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube all come much closer to gender parity. Describing Reddit without making reference to its gender asymmetry is akin to reporting on Pinterest, which is 72 percent female, without noting that the site caters to women... when the CEO of a 74 percent male social network resigns after facing intense criticism from its users—much of it laced with misogyny—they somehow forget to label Reddit, in turn, as "male-oriented." Reddit too often passes in the media as unmarked and neutral territory while sites like Pinterest get pigeonholed as girly.
What this means is that this mis-categorization neatly sweeps a lot of ugliness under the rug, like the flood of misogyny post CEO Ellen Page stepping down, or the proliferation of sub-reddits centered around white supremacist and other hate and harassment groups. As user davidreiss666 puts it:
There were often submissions to backwater hate-based subreddits about Ellen Pao that had comment chains which were all comments about her sex and race. This was well before the blow ups with the mods. Nominally the news story submissions were about her law suit with her former employer, but they were all nothing more than excuses for idiots to gather round an make sexist and racist comments. Subreddits like /r/Coontown, /r/SubredditCancer, /r/Undelete, /r/KotakuInAction, /r/Redpill, /r/GreatApes, /r/European, /r/GreatApes, etc. all made common-cause in the effort to say nasty stuff about Pao. Then when the ruling about FPH was handed down, they made sure to invite all those hate-based users into their idiot-clubhouses.... something that needs to be addressed very quickly are the various hate-based groups which are actively attempting to colonize (their word) parts of reddit. Several hate based groups of white supremacist, neo nazis, holocaust deniers, etc. are setting up shop around Reddit. Right now, /r/coontown almost gets as much traffic as stormfront.org. And that's not including the traffic from all the other racist subreddits on the site. That spike in traffic is the Dylan Roof shooting, and the extra traffic seems to have staying power considering they picked up 4,000 subscribers in two days and another 1k at least since.. If they don't take care of it soon, reddit will soon have the dubious honor of being the most active white supremacist forum on the the Internet.
So it seems that reddit is less like the front page of the internet and more like that basement bar that sometimes has awesome events while everyone pretends not to see the Nazi biker gang in the corner.

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