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Then he took a swig of beer and said it anyway. In Charlottesville, James Alex Fields, one of the white nationalists, had driven a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring nineteen and killing a woman named Heather Heyer. Four words became thirty-six: If so, maybe I should scale it back.

In October, on the morning the new policy was rolled out, Ashooh sat at a long conference table with a dozen other employees. Community stays in touch with a cross-section of redditors, asking them for feedback and encouraging them to be on their best behavior. When this fails and redditors break the rules, trust and safety punishes them. Anti-evil, a team of back-end engineers, makes software that flags dodgy-looking content and sends that content to humans, who decide what to do about it.

Ashooh went over the plan for the day. All at once, they would replace the old policy with the new policy, post an announcement explaining the new policy, warn a batch of subreddits that they were probably in violation of the new policy, and ban another batch of subreddits that were flagrantly, irredeemably in violation.

What is Reddit? A Beginner's Guide to the Front Page of the Internet | Digital Trends

At 10 a. Some of the comments on the announcement were cynical. At what point am I encouraging or glorifying violence against my own body? I understood why other companies had been reluctant to let me see something like this. Social networks, no matter how big they get or how familiar they seem, are not ineluctable forces but experimental technologies built by human beings.

In the world we live in, the least social-media executives can do is acknowledge that power. They concluded that the ban had worked: Look, free speech is obviously a great ideal to strive toward. But then, in practice, every day, gray areas come up.

A few years ago, Twitter announced that it would start charging for vowels. Last year, Google shared a mockup of its new data center on Mars, and Amazon revealed voice-recognition software that would take commands from pets. Get it? In the beginning, all million pixels were white.

What is Reddit? A beginner’s guide to the front page of the internet

Once the experiment started, anyone could change a single pixel, anywhere on the grid, to one of sixteen colors. The only restriction was speed: Place had been active for about twenty minutes when I stopped by, and Wardle was huddled over his laptop, frantically refreshing dozens of tabs. So far, the square was mostly blank, with a few stray dots blinking in and out of existence. But redditors were making plans in the comments and, in true Reddit fashion, clinging to those plans with cultish intensity.

The Blue Empire was conspiring to turn the whole square blue; the Red Empire vowed to make it red; already, they were on a war footing. Other groups planned elaborate messages, fractal patterns, and references to various memes. A multi-partisan group—leftists, Trump supporters, patriotic libertarians, and pre-political teen-agers—decided to draw an American flag in the center of the square.

Wardle went to great lengths to show me that Place was a pure democracy—the algorithm was designed so that, once it went live, all he could do was watch, along with everyone else. Now that he was watching, he seemed deeply nervous. The community takes that and does all sorts of creative things with it.


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He paused. The upper-left corner was a choppy, flickering purple, as the Blue Empire and the Red Empire battled for dominance. Lunch was served: People stood in the common area, holding paper plates, watching a live feed of Place on a wall-mounted TV. He pointed to a section of the screen. As we watched, one swastika was erased and another was modified to become a Windows 95 logo. Eventually, the swastika-makers got bored and moved on.

At one point, the American flag caught on fire; the fire was stamped out, and the Reddit employees cheered. Toward the end, the square was a dense, colorful tapestry, chaotic and strangely captivating.

How do we fix life online without limiting free speech?

It was a collage of hundreds of incongruous images: In the final hours, shortly before the experiment ended and the image was frozen for posterity, BlackVoid launched a surprise attack on the American flag. A dark fissure tore at the bottom of the flag, then overtook the whole thing. For a few minutes, the center was engulfed in darkness.

Then a broad coalition rallied to beat back the Void; the stars and stripes regained their form, and, in the end, the flag was still there. The final image contained no visible hate symbols, no violent threats, not even much nudity. Late in the day, Wardle emerged from hiding, poured himself a drink, and pushed back his hood.

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Annals of Technology. March 19, Issue. Recommended Stories. There is a search bar near the top, which you can use to find both posts and subreddits related to a term. Reddit as a whole is governed by the admins, employees of Reddit who have vast powers across the site, including the ability to strip moderators of their privileges and even ban entire subreddits from the site.

Users click the arrows to upvote or downvote posts, increasing or decreasing their visibility, and the number reflects the current sum of upvotes and downvotes. Be proud of your Karma! Hey, everyone: Ask yours here: Users can also give Reddit gold to other users as a gift, usually done when someone makes a post others really enjoy. Just remember, Reddit is a group of people meeting on the internet, sharing stuff, and talking to one another. Act as you would if you were hanging out with old friends or new ones. If you already know what communities you want to be a part of, then just type it in the search bar in the upper-right corner.

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