The Impossible Reddit

1. Business Insider:

The Fappening served as a dumping ground for the nude celebrity photos that were leaked last weekend. In a strange move, Redditors within The Fappening started donating to the Prostate Cancer Foundation “in honor of” Jennifer Lawrence, one of the celebrities who was affected by the massive hack.

2. Yishan Wong, CEO of Reddit, in a post titled “Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul”:

We understand the harm that misusing our site does to the victims of this theft, and we deeply sympathize.

Having said that, we are unlikely to make changes to our existing site content policies in response to this specific event.

The reason is because we consider ourselves not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community. The role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers.

3. Recode, one day later:

Reddit, the social news site with a big Web footprint, is raising a big funding round — with help from some of the people who helped launch the site nine years ago, including co-founder Alexis Ohanian and other people associated closely with startup incubator Y Combinator.

Sources said the almost-anything-goes site has reached a preliminary agreement to sell less than 10 percent of the company for more than $50 million. That could give the company a valuation of upwards of $500 million.

These investors likely include some of the biggest names in venture capital, some of whom are also invested in the image site Imgur, the primary host on which Reddit users posted and reposted the celebrity leaks. Without Reddit and Imgur, finding these images would have been much harder. With Reddit and Imgur, the photos were cataloged and promoted and made extremely easy to view, browse and comment upon.

Reddit characterizes itself as a sort of internet government; Reddit’s largest shareholder is Advance Publications, which owns Condé Nast, but it is raising money from venture capitalists who hope to make a large profit from their investment. Reddit hit “new traffic milestones, ones which [they would] be ashamed to share publicly,” during the celebrity leaks; due to its size, Reddit is now apparently valued at half a billion dollars. Reddit’s management can’t seem to shut up; Reddit’s reported investors are pathologically unable to shut up. This is completely and obviously untenable: You can’t have both your vintage internet self-serving absolutism and your millions upon millions of new internet dollars. Either the money wins, or a toxic and convenient misappropriation of the concept of free speech wins. Everybody else on the greater internet, as usual, loses.

Update: Reddit’s CEO apparently followed up with… I’m not even sure what to call this?

Indeed, my post’s title contained an anachronistic usage of a gendered noun where modern usage would almost certainly have preferred “Person” or “Individual.” Why in the world would I do that?

…That is what the inclusion of “man” in the title means. I’m a man, and the blog post was written, inevitably, for the men who read it.

Is this the worst unforced public statement in recent internet history? Anyway, thanks to reader Peter for that one.

Image: The fastest-growing NSFW subreddits of the last 24 hours.

Correction: Advance Media is the largest shareholder in Reddit, which was spun out from the company. Reddit is no longer a full subsidiary.