Matthew Korniczky, a member of the LOG OFF TLC, joins the blog as a guest writer to share why he believes, in the age of computer-generated algorithms, Reddit comes the closest to offering human connection, online.
I want to let you know that Reddit is an amazing social media platform. Yes, I am saying that on the blog of a site dedicated to decreasing social media use. There are many ways in which Reddit is a great (or may I say: the best) social media platform, and simultaneously, is the most human social platform out there. Even though it still has its flaws, Reddit is the closest in the fight of digital wellness and big-tech advertising. Here’s why:
Part 1: It’s Human.
Reddit is almost completely human-run. It contains few algorithms, little personalization of what each user sees, and is maintained solely by people. For those not familiar with the platform, Reddit subdivides into communities called “subreddits”. Each subreddit is monitored by volunteer moderators (again, not algorithms) who decide the posts that should stay on the site. Currently, I moderate the volunteer subreddit and my daily jobs include interacting with others, approving/removing posts, and encouraging others to share their volunteer experiences. Through moderators, there is little censorship, more freedom, and more reality.
Furthermore, the community members themselves decide what people see and don’t see on the platform. This is through actions called “upvotes” and “downvotes”. If the members see something they don’t like, they downvote it, and if they like it, they upvote it. If a post has many upvotes, more people see it, and if it has many downvotes, it drops into oblivion. While this system can be flawed at times, it gives Reddit users more control over their communities and helps prevent spam on the site. Little of what users see is determined by machine-learning, but instead by fellow Redditors. Also, while people may equate upvotes to likes, they really are incomparable.
Part 2: Advertising (or the lack thereof) :
No, as much as I would enjoy saying the contrary, Reddit still has ads. Like all major social media platforms, Reddit, too, needs money for running the site. How it differs from other social sites is drastic, though. First of all, only a small percentage of the profits go to the CEO, Steve Huffman. While the company is valued at $3B, Steve’s net worth is only $4M. While that’s still a lot of money, let’s compare these numbers to Facebook and TikTok CEOs:
Reddit CEO vs Value: $4M : $3B
Facebook CEO vs Value:$100B : $527B
TikTok CEO vs Value*: $15M : 50B
The ratios don’t compare, do they?
Furthermore, Reddit has a subscription where people can use Reddit ad-free (with other perks). Users’ attention isn’t the product anymore, and users directly support the site. Where is the ad-free version of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Snapchat? I don’t see them. The major problem with advertising is user tracking. What if you could pay for no ads? No ads, no tracking. Boom.
Part 3: Choosing What You See + True Community
One final reason why Reddit is the best includes the topic of choice. People can choose what they see on Reddit, without algorithms. At the top of each page, a user will find a “sort by” button, where they can choose different options, like sorting by new, hot, controversial, or top posts. They can choose whether they want to see the best of what people have been posting, the raw, chronological view, or the posts with the most upvotes.
Therefore, the algorithms cannot directly control what people see, one major complaint with other sites. Small, isolated cults of people don’t happen often. When they do, it’s by choice, and not through machine-learning bringing them together. Furthermore, a user can even search and look through communities with opposing views freely. What do they think about climate change? Search. What do they think about the election? Search. And since Reddit is community-based, users can message and interact with others, sparking dialogue and understanding. Users are bound to see opposing views in subreddits, even without searching for them. For example, I have different political views than most others in my city, and because I am a part of my city's subreddit, I often see posts and comments about other viewpoints. Through this, I better understand the other side and have changed many of my views because of it.
Part 4: Conclusion + What We Can Learn From It
Reddit is strides ahead in the raw, human, social media game. I mean, their first rule is “Remember the human”. How about that? Their platform is mostly run by people, not robots, and has an ad-free version. People can choose what they want to see, and it is not determined by algorithms. People aren’t automatically put into sub-groups with people with like-opinions. Through Reddit, we can see what an ideal social media site should be like. It shows that social media doesn’t have to be the way many sites are currently. Today, I encourage you to rethink the ways that your social media platform can improve, and maybe share them with your friends.
Also, you could just join Reddit. I’ll be there with you.
*This is recent CEO Kevin Mayer’s net worth, who resigned in late August. Since the current CEO, Vanessa Pappas, is new, her net worth hasn’t caught up with the company valuation yet.
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