We Need to Talk About Reddit Radicalization

At its core, Reddt is for sharing cat videos - like most of the internet. However, there is a deeper, alt-right, part of Reddit you may not know about.


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Isn’t Reddit the Cat Video Site?

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Early on, Reddit was nothing more than a simple forum hosting site. If you have not checked on it recently, I think you will be very surprised by the minefield it has turned into. Not only has the number of subreddits over 100K followers ballooned, but there are also scores of smaller, unknown subreddits. This would not be a problem if Reddit was still about spreading cat pictures, however, Reddit has transitioned into a place with immense political sway. For example, Reddit has hosted AMAs for several political candidates, Bernie Sanders ended up hosting several. It was also the host of one of the largest alt right havens, r/thedonald. The problem is that the site also hosts very important progresive subreddits. Such as, r/FragileWhiteReditor, r/JournalistEW, r/Liberal, and many more. The fact is, everything would be ok if the administrators would evict problematic groups. Yet when given the chance, Reddit staff lets racist pages stay up.

From Redditor to Radical

Unite the Right rally - Wikipedia

For the Alt-right, Reddit is the perfect hate platform. Reddit relied on reports to find these extremist groups on their sites. But if no one reports these problematic subs, almost nothing will be done about them. Even worse, innocent looking ‘meme’ subreddits often have dark ties to racial extremist content. As a result, long term exposure to this style of content can influence your beliefs, making it harder for you to seperate the two. Even as an adult, it can be difficult to recognise and isolate the memes from the racism, for a kid it could be impossible – Kids inherently have a hard time separating fantasy from reality. Alt-right redditors deliberately put memes side by side with actual hate as a joke. The scary thing is, many of these page creators know this and actively try to convert people to Neo-nazism.

The Reddit Rabbit Hole

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Believe it or not, the algorithm that controls what content you see is made to keep you on the site. The computer brain that runs these algorithms does not have any sense of right or wrong. This moral grey area even spawned the alt right movement. The Reddit Rabbit hole works by slowly increasing how extreme the content it will suggest to you will get. This way, it can breadcrumb you from the relatively mundane to the more radical. You may think that it could never happen to you, but the sad truth is it can happen to anyone, especially if you are young or impressionable. If you think that you are immune to radicalizing facts of the algorithm, you are in fact most at risk to be sucked into it.


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