For this blog, I will be focusing Reddit and its community, and reflecting upon my experiences with both.
Reddit is a site that exemplifies Barlow’s imagined cyberspace (1996). The community is allowed almost complete freedom and is only subjected to only five core rules and the rules of the subreddits they post on, if the moderators choose to have any (Reddit 2014a; Reddit 2014b). The site’s main admins will not interfere with subreddits and their moderators unless there is a violation of the main five rules. For many, the morals and ethics upheld in the offline world are largely irrelevant.
The sites construction is confusing and seems messy to a user that is unfamiliar with the way it works. When I first began engaging in Reddit, as part of a university assessment, I found it overwhelming. You open the ‘front page of the internet’, only to be faced with a series of links varying from cute animal snaps to thoughtful comments on the construction of gender. It was also confronting how quickly the community can move from considerate to smutty in the space of one thread.
Its moderation is at the mercy of the wider community who can control it by up-voting or down-voting the content. On the face of it, Reddit is a content democracy. However, without laws to govern it, it can be ruthless when faced with an unpopular opinion. When a user posts a bigoted or abusive content, there is a mass of people showing acceptance by up-voting it, not to mention those who also comment their support.
It is the chaotic side of Reddit that often gets it in trouble. Most recently, Reddit has been linked to the celebrity nudes scandal of 2014. A subreddit was created called ‘The Fappening‘ which documented the scandal and is archiving the pictures (Vultaggio 2014; Evans 2014). I was conflicted when viewing this subreddit. While I most certainly do not agree with the sharing of these pictures and much less with the obvious delight of those who have shared them, my support for open discourse and free speech is equal to my support for women. This conflict is indicative of my feelings towards Reddit as a whole. Do I support freedom of speech wholly? Or do I uphold and defend my beliefs and accept that some voices should be stifled?
Barlow, J 1996, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, viewed 3/9/14, <https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html>
Evans, S J 2014, ‘How Reddit became a one-stop shop for the iCloud photos: Online forum giving advice on how to share images, protect the hacker’s identity – all while urging users to donate to a prostate cancer charity’, Daily Mail, 2 September, viewed 3/9/14, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2740481/How-Reddit-one-stop-shop-celebrity-iCloud-photos.html>
Reddit 2014a, ‘Rules of Reddit’, Reddit, viewed 3/9/14, <http://www.reddit.com/rules>
Reddit 2014b, ‘Moderation: Basics’, Reddit, viewed 3/9/14, <http://www.reddit.com/wiki/moderation>
Vutagiio, M 2014, ‘What Is ‘The Fappening’? Alleged McKayla Maroney Nude Pictures Banned From Reddit’, IB Times, 2 Sepetember, viewed 3/9/14, <http://www.ibtimes.com/what-fappening-alleged-mckayla-maroney-nude-pictures-banned-reddit-1676484>