July 17, 2015

Reddited

[Redditors are] “a swath of angry young men who think they are the new Sons of Liberty for calling Ellen Pao tyrannical” and “people who will defend to the death not the right to free speech, but the obligation of a private company to provide server space for hate speech.” in Reddit needs a real leader

The fuss over Reddit illustrates one of the weird disconnects in the techno-libertarian mindset: the simultaneous belief that free speech on the net is so important and powerful that it should never be abrogated, and that this free speech is basically harmless (and that the very real victims of absolute free speech aren’t really suffering (“it’s just the Internet…”) or don’t deserve any sort of compensation for the harmful effects they actually suffer, because, you know, libertarianism and all that…). Anyone familiar with Usenet (which is in so many ways Reddit’s direct ancestor) as it outgrew the university-only stage could have predicted the mess of unfettered racism, sexism, misogyny, and sheer hate that quickly infested significant parts of Reddit. Give a bunch of young guys free, anonymous, and basically unmoderated access to worldwide forums — what could possibly go wrong?

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