Monday, 30 July 2012

The Darker side of Reddit

Since its inception in 2005 has often been an influential force for positive change in the world. The website allows members to create and participate in discussions about limitless topics, and post links to various websites and pictures. I have seen members of the website help spur political movements (reddit was pivotal in the prevention of SOPA, and influential in recruiting people to Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity), feed starving strangers, give gifts, raise tens of thousands of dollars for charity, coach each other away from suicidal thoughts, and act as a source of knowledge and inspiration to hundreds of thousands. Today, however, I saw a darker side of reddit. Today I discovered a person who gets sexual pleasure from pictures of dead women.
The member, drunkendonuts3, posted an unlabeled link to a series of pictures, saying that it was gets him sexual pleasure and asking only that we don’t judge him. After posting the link he attempted to give the impression, though it was never openly stated, that  he doesn’t want to hurt any women, he just likes the idea of it. Disturbing? Horrifyingly.
The post was met with mixed responses. Most people felt as shocked as I did. Many openly called him a terrible person, while others said that drunkendonuts3 shouldn’t be judged. One poster, revealing herself as a woman, pointed out that this isn’t even the rarest of sexual deviancies and encouraged drunkendonuts3 to try and find someone who was interested in roleplaying.
This post got me searching around reddit, where I soon stumbled upon /r/misogyny. can be broken down in smaller ‘subreddits’  which allow members to find more specific content. Users can subscribe to /r/funny for funny things, /r/politics to discuss the political ideologies or politics in the world, or /r/aww to look at pictures of adorable things. There’s a subreddit for almost anything you can think of. Unfortunately, this sometimes allows horrible people to find one another.
/r/misogyny is  one such sad place. It is littered with violent pornography, hateful messages, and the thoughts of disturbed men. Here is a place for those with an incomprehensible hatred for women to gather and allow their hate to fester.
/r/beatingwomen is another place. /r/rapingwomen, another. It seems the only restriction that is made on reddit is no underage nudity (and even that is only a recent development, with subreddits like /r/jailbait only recently being shut down). With so little restrictions people can glorifying anything they want, no matter how awful it may be.
You don’t have to use your real name on reddit. You create an account, and if you want to you can use that account for everything you do. People can track what you have posted and read what you have done in the past, but they’ll never know who you really are unless you reveal it. This gives people almost infinite anonymity, and anonymity, unfortunately, allows people to be the worst version of themselves.
Reddit has done wonderful things. It’s a place for great minds to discuss great things, a place to laugh and a place to get a hand if you need it. But it is also a place for evil people to  evil things, for horrible ‘humor’ and a place for people to glorify their obscene beliefs. I find it hard to reconcile these two sides of a website that is becoming more and more relevant.
The employees of reddit are constantly trying to improve the website. They are consistently making it better, and safer. I wonder when they will decide that the freedom to post anything should not include the freedom to promote hatred.
At least one good thing has come out of /r/misogyny, /r/beatingwomen and /r/rapingwomen: it’s made it a whole lot simpler for the authorities to keep tabs on some potentially dangerous people.

Written by Matthew Ariss

1 comment:

  1. That's the thing with the internet, anytime I make the mistake of thinking we have moved on from sexism, racism or other types of discrimination, I just go on any site with any public comments/views like youtube or even yahoo's comments section and I know we are nowhere near the end.