Friday April 06, 2018
Recommended: Andrew Marantz's New Yorker portrait of Reddit, midflight, as it tries to figure out where to draw a line it didn't think it had to: between free speech and hate speech; between acceptable and un. Full title: “Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet: How do we fix life online without limiting free speech?”
No easy answers. Well, there are. One is to say it's all free speech, but then you run into the problem of us. You wind up with subreddits on revenge porn or Jewhating or worse. You wind up with Donald Trump as president.
A recurring bit is when Marantz describes some awful subreddits, then adds a parenthetical, “(Yes, it gets worse.)” As here:
In September of 2011, Anderson Cooper discussed the [jailbait] subreddit on CNN. “It's pretty amazing that a big corporation would have something like this, which reflects badly on it,” he said. Traffic to Jailbait quadrupled overnight. Twelve days later, after someone in the group apparently shared a nude photo of a fourteen-year-old girl, the community was banned. And yet the founder of Jailbait, an infamous troll who went by u/Violentacrez, was allowed to stay on Reddit, as were some four hundred other communities he'd created—r/Jewmerica, r/ChokeABitch, and worse. (Yes, it gets worse.)
Despite the dive into the worst of humanity, the piece isn't without its laugh-out-loud absurdities. In 2014, Ellen Pao became CEO of the often-misogynistic site. She lasted eight months:
Early in her tenure, Reddit announced a crackdown on involuntary pornography. If you found a compromising photo of yourself circulating on Reddit without your consent, you could report it and the company would remove it. In retrospect, this seems like a straightforward business decision, but some redditors treated it as the first in an inevitable parade of horrors. “This rule is stupid and suppresses our rights,” u/penisfuckermcgee commented.
I'd like the audio version read by Jason Bateman.