While government agencies try to intervene in the celebrity hacking crisis by chasing down the responsible black hat, most of the chaos surrounding the “Fappening” has already come and gone. The stolen photos hit the internet, entire communities popped up and moderators rushed in to control the mess as best they could.
In that moment of extralegal turmoil, responsibility fell on companies like Reddit, Twitter and 4chan, reminding us that the most important modern channels of communication are in the hands of a few private companies.
Earlier today AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka offered up a new spin on rumors roiling that Reddit is trying to raise a round of outside funding.
This past Sunday, TechCrunch reported that Reddit is in the process of raising venture capital at a $400 million valuation. Thanks to a banner year that included an AMA from President Obama, 37 billion pageviews and 400 million unique visitors, TechCrunch said Reddit could now command double the valuation it had in early 2011 before its owners Conde Nast spun it out as a standalone operation. Reddit is still fully owned by Advance Publications, the parent company of Conde Nast.
It's All About the Bitcoins
Some waved virtual pitchforks and some wept into each other’s bosoms as Reddit users gathered in the town square (a.k.a. the Reddit front page) to voice their outrage at CEO Yishan Wong, who committed the ultimate act of betrayal directly in public view.
Today, in the wee hours of the morning, Mr. Wong posted a link on his Facebook page. But it wasn’t just any typical link–not to Imgur, and certainly not to Reddit. Instead, the link he posted was to 9gag, Reddit’s most notorious nemesis.
With 3.8 billion pageviews in October alone, Reddit is still far from profitable, so it’s betting on a subscription model to keep the site free of traditional advertising. Last week, the site began ramping up its efforts to convince users to invest in Reddit Gold. For $3.99/month or $29.99/year, users can buy a Reddit Gold account that affords them extra features like the ability to turn off ads and view more comments and subreddits per page.
With 3.8 billion pageviews and 46 million unique visitors, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong published a post to the Reddit blog asking users to buy beefed-up premium memberships in order to support the growing site. [Reddit Blog]
A handful of geography professors took some of the racist tweets sent out after President Obama’s re-election and mapped them. It will surprise no one that the majority of these tweets were clustered in the Southeast U.S. [Floating Sheep]
Facebook’s hardware team wants to build biodegradable servers. [Wired]
A project out of Microsoft Research translates English into Mandarin in the same voice. [Technet]
Now you too can own your very own Goatse email address. [Gawker]
As the story of notorious Reddit user Violentacrez and the controversial subreddits he moderated sinks its tentacles into the greater internet, Reddit administrators–known for their laissez-faire attitude toward site moderation–have remained astonishingly mum. In conversations with Betabeat, Reddit general manager Erik Martin gave little indication as to how Reddit intends to handle the Violentacrez and Creepshots fracas, except to admit that two of the subreddits had been banned by admins.
But a thread published by Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, posted to a private subreddit for moderators and obtained by Gawker, sheds some light on Reddit’s intentions toward the controversial content on its platform:
“Look at the number of cargo shorts here,” remarked the skeptical companion Betabeat had dragged along to the Global Reddit Meetup NYC on Saturday, as we stood on the outskirts of the picnic in Central Park where close to 200 Redditors snacked on chips and soda and mingled in the shade.
As we approached the group congregated around a large sign featuring the Reddit alien logo,
we were invited to join in a game of “Dino Ball.” “It’s the best game ever. Come over and see,” we were advised by a circle of 20-somethings hitting what appeared to be a small green children’s ball with painted teeth. Other picnickers played soccer and tossed Frisbees. Discussion threads about the event had mentioned Super Soakers, though most attendees seemed fairly content chatting in small circles—including Reddit CEO Yishan “sparklepants’ Wong, who hung out at the picnic for about an hour, handing out stickers and taking photos with other Redditors.
The top-scoring link of all time on the social news website Reddit is a post that users were never meant to see at all. It is titled “test post please ignore,” but almost 27,000 Redditors found it so amusing that they voted it up.
That is testament to the website’s impassioned community—and their brand of dry, often geeky humor (the site’s logo is an alien, after all). But Reddit’s user base, which a recent PBS documentary pegged as 72 percent male, has wide-ranging interests. Other top posts include a link to a news item about the elderly volunteering to clean up nuclear waste in Japan following the 2011 tsunami, and a Q&A session with the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Reddit is one of the country’s most highly trafficked websites, but its general manager, Erik Martin, keeps a remarkably low profile. Most Redditors know the 33-year-old Mr. Martin solely by his username: HueyPriest.
Yishan Wong, a Hawaii native, has held senior engineering positions at both PayPal and Facebook. In 2010, he left the social network. He’s an angel investor and a co-working space cofounder, and has been “doing random startup consulting” since he left Facebook. We, like many others, wondered what he’d do next.
Apparently, the answer to that is “be the CEO of Reddit.” It’s surprising because Mr. Wong is a technologist, and Reddit is at a crucial moment after spinning off from mothership Advance Publications. “But as I continued the conversations, I came to understand that reddit wasn’t looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because reddit is not a conventional company,” Mr. Wong wrote in his introductory blog post, in which he said he was not looking to make “big, bold changes.” Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian wrote noted that Mr. Wong has been a Redditor for a really, really long time. Redditors welcomed their new overlord with a series of masturbation puns.