I have heard good things about Reddit, and its influence in shaping the social media conversation is growing, as evidenced by the recently hosted President Obama Q&A.
However, as in the newsgroup days, Reddit has a seedy underbelly that can make most peoples’ skin crawl.
Gawker has a story about outting one of Reddit’s most (in)famous trolls, a man who went by the handle ViolentAcrez. His posts were some of the most vile things one could find on the internet, but his specialty was posting photos of scantily-clad underage girls. Instead of removing said posts or even banning the user who posted them, Reddit administrators and programmers rewarded him with the powerful position of moderator. They were willing to overlook his creepiness because of both their relationship with him and his contribution to making Reddit a powerful force on the internet.
A different theme on ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.
In communities like Reddit, anonymity is job #1. Busting perverts like ViolentAcrez is seen as the ultimate offense.
The Daily Dot sums up their logic:
At Web communities like Reddit, which thrive because users are free to say and do anything they want, doxing is a severe crime, both to users and the site’s staff. It’s far worse than offensive speech like racism and homophobia or, yes, even posting surreptitiously snapped photos of innocent women for creeps to perv over. Why? Because doxing undermines the community’s structural integrity: Reddit simply would not exist as we know it if users weren’t operating under the freedom of a flexible identity. So redditors aren’t banning Gawker to protect violentacrez, they’re doing it to protect themselves.
So, there you have it.
As Reddit grows in number, popularity, and influence, the need for them to self-police becomes greater. As long as they continue to allow some of the most vile internet content to populate their site, they’ll continue down the path newsgroups did, and end up being some place only perverts, pedophiles, and racists hang out.