Community management: extreme difficulty mode
What interested me though, were the calls from users for Reddit to deal with far-right radicalisation of young white men, particularly through subreddits like the notorious ‘The_Donald.’
: “And you all refuse to act for one simple reason: you’re afraid of how it looks. You’re worried that the headline will be 'Reddit takes political stance and bans Donald Trump supporters.’ Which is obviously not the case, since the ban would be for brigading, racism, sexism, etc. But you’re worried that you can’t control the narrative.”
This 'narrative’ is one challenge for Reddit, but it’s also worth considering:
- Changing too much of Reddit’s longstanding permissive culture (even for necessary reasons like tackling abuse and antisocial behaviour) would be like intricate surgery. Much of the positive behaviour that has made it such a force for good over the years is due to exactly the same focus on pseudonymous freewheeling as the bad stuff.
- If far-right radicalisation is removed from Reddit, it may well move into much more difficult-to-track corners of the internet.
That’s not to say Reddit shouldn’t do more – it should. But the challenges it faces reflect how social platforms have become just as messy and complex as the rest of the human condition – we just haven’t worked out how to navigate them yet.