Read it at Reddit: A right way for social media

Congratulations to the newly minted multimillionaires who made bank last week with the IPO of Reddit stock. Under the ticker RDDT on the New York Stock Exchange, the now-public company can fairly be considered one of the giant social media platforms.

And though Reddit surely has plenty of problems, it’s not a profoundly toxic place. It works, and the reasons it works underscore what makes sense about the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, the federal statute that’s treated as a partisan political football by those who hate the way these internet businesses, with support from the law, allow free-flowing posting — for which they are not held liable — but simultaneously act to enforce community standards and purge bad actors.


If you’re not familiar with Reddit, we recommend it highly. Join one of more than 3 million subreddits and you can plunge yourself into lively and often well-informed conversations about anything from New York City to baking to science, or share delightful photos of nature, or videos of things that seemed to be going all wrong and then, suddenly, worked out.

As the New York Times’ Kevin Roose points out, a decade ago, Reddit was much closer to a cesspool, overwhelmed by bullies and trolls and people spewing garbage. That still describes some social networks today. Under Elon Musk, the reasonably well-curated community called Twitter turned into X, a place where almost anything goes. The same is true of the toxic platform called Truth Social, which is on the cusp of going public in a deal that could deliver billions of dollars to a man named Donald Trump.

From its low point, Reddit cleaned up its act, banning tons of threads that had turned rotten and empowering a vigilant army of citizen moderators to enforce rules. Not every decision was the right one, and plenty of mistakes still get made, but people exercised and continue to exercise judgment, as they do every day on another well-functioning resource, Wikipedia. That built a functioning community that serves the vast majority of users.

So-called conservatives call any content moderation — any attempt to cast out hateful or nasty stuff — censorship. They and some on the left want to shred 230, holding platforms to the standards of publishers being strictly responsible for what people post. They simultaneously, and contradictorily, want platforms to stop disciplining or exiling people who break the rules. That’s bollocks.

When it works, and it truly can, 230 strikes precisely the right balance. Reddit, Twitter, Facebook or any private platform can’t conceivably be held legally responsible for the billions of things millions of people say every minute; that would lead to their total shutdown. But neither should they throw up their hands and say they can’t do anything about people who encourage terrorism, glorify violence, call people racist names, spread lies that damage public health, and the like.

They should be encouraged to live by guidelines that make them work for the many, which means coming down hard on the few. Society needs civil behavior. Online should be similar

Here’s hoping that in its new incarnation as a public company, Reddit keeps its eye on the ball. The pressures of delivering returns to shareholders can be healthy, but they can also lead to stupid and shortsighted decisions.

— New York Daily News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email