February 01, 2019

Photo Credit: Lincoln Beddoe

Reddit is the fifth most popular Web site in the U.S. and has become a focal point when discussing the intersection of technology and free speech. Communities on Reddit host lighter topics, ranging from financial advice to gardening. But it also has a dark side. Reddit has been known as a breeding ground for racist, sexist, and obscene dialogue. On a site where members have free reign to vote on what content is most interesting, Reddit can be viewed as a canary in the coal mine for issues that have roiled the tech world. Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, author of new book “We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory ,” describes the origin of Reddit and what its successes and shortcomings can teach us.

Three Takeaways:

  • Even if you’re not one of Reddit’s 330 million monthly users, chances are that you’ve consumed media originating from the site. Self-dubbed “the frontpage of the internet,” Reddit influences other media because its the creator of some of the most viral content on the Web. BuzzFeed, for example, relies heavily on Reddit for its content.
  • Reddit can be viewed as a place of democratic freedom, or as an anarchic space perpetuating hate speech. Hailed as democratizing the flow of content, this freedom can be taken to the extreme by increasing the use of profanity and pornography.
  • Lagorio-Chafkin thinks that Reddit CEO Steve Huffman can shed light on the issue of speech on the internet, and contribute to the public (and Congressional) conversation already being had by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. How should government regulate this stuff? And how will it continue to influence our most fundamental human behaviors and interactions?

More Reading:

Reddit, Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Internet, Forum Network, free speech

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