Reddit’s Plans to Go Public Are Expected to Lead to Sweeping Content Changes

Joel Eisenberg

As with any public company, an increase in federal oversight and answering to shareholders is a risk, yet several of the ‘reddits’ and subreddits’ on the platform have been besieged by controversy.

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Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: Wikipedia.org, Semrush.com, NYTimes.com, ArtsTechnica.com, and Time.com.

Introduction

Wikipedia features a comprehensive overview of the Reddit web platform, which was founded in 2005 and largely considered a social media platform in the media proper, though not so by its members primarily due to its focus on community.

As excerpted from the Wikipedia page: Reddit is an American social news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website. Registered users (commonly referred to as "Redditors") submit content to the site such as links, text posts, images, and videos, which are then voted up or down by other members. Posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called "communities" or "subreddits". Submissions with more upvotes appear towards the top of their subreddit and, if they receive enough upvotes, ultimately on the site's front page. Reddit administrators moderate the communities. Moderation is also conducted by community-specific moderators, who are not Reddit employees. As of March 2022, Reddit ranks as the 9th-most-visited website in the world and 6th most-visited website in the U.S., according to Semrush.

But Reddit has also been beset by its share of controversy, including widespread incidents of hate speech. With the company having filed paperwork for a potential $15 million IPO, the implications of such challenges moving forward — primarily issues related to content — have come to the fore.

Let us explore further.

Reddit, 2022

On December 15 of last year, The New York Times published “Reddit Takes Its First Official Step Toward Going Public,” which stated: Reddit announced on Wednesday that it had confidentially filed paperwork for an eventual public offering of its stock, a significant step toward the public markets for the 16-year-old internet company. The company did not disclose the total number of shares to be offered nor did it state an initial valuation, figures that will likely be worked out in the weeks ahead as it prepares a prospectus for potential investors. A Reddit spokeswoman did not provide further comment beyond a company news release announcing the decision.

Perhaps in preparation, Reddit has been updating some of its features. In February, 2022, ArtsTechnica.com featured “Reddit’s iOS and Android App Gets its Biggest Update in Years,” which elaborated on the company’s latest tech upgrade: In a blog post announcing the feature, Reddit says that one in five users joined at least one new community after using the Discover Tab. Jason Costa, Reddit's director of product for content and communities, offered the following statement in the blog post: “We’re ushering in a new era of discovery on Reddit, with images and video top of mind. We’re making discovering relevant content and communities more intuitive with the Discover Tab. It’s a great new way for people to explore and engage with hundreds of thousands of communities around the world.”

The article goes on to state: Discover Tab is now in the top-level app navigation, replacing the communities and subscriptions tab. Tapping it brings you to a scrollable grid list of Reddit content from a variety of subreddits you may not already be following.

Such upgrades are important and frequently effective for end-users, and consequently future shareholders.

Where the issues are pronounced, however, are in the site’s oft-controversial categories and posts.

A January, 2022 piece from Time.com, “Reddit Allows Hate Speech to Flourish in Its Global Forums, Moderators Say,” gets to the root of the issue: Reddit’s problem is a global one, say current and former moderators. Indian subreddits like r/chodi and r/DesiMeta include Islamophobic posts and calls for the genocide of Muslims. In subreddits about China like r/sino and r/genzedong, users attack Uyghurs and promote violence against them. And members of r/Portugueses regularly traffic in anti-Black, anti-Roma and anti-immigrant sentiment.

These types of incidents are common on the platform, which will not be as casually accepted, per industry analysts, should the company plans to go public succeed as expected.

Advance Publications is currently the company’s majority shareholder.

Conclusion

For further specific examples on the myriad controversies and hate speech prevalent on the platform, see here for extensive Wikipedia page on the matter.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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