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Former Reddit CEO Speaks Out Against Online Bickering

“Elon Musk is in for a world of misery if he takes over Twitter,” argues Yishan Wong, the former CEO of Reddit. “He hasn’t a clue.”

Wong goes on to propose an Elon Markets Hypothesis based on Matt Levine’s work. Musk, according to Wong, “doesn’t get what’s occurred to online culture since 2004.” Or, as I like to refer to it, “simply culture.” Wong used Bitcoin as an example — Musk’s public interest in cryptocurrencies is new — but it’s also true that at least one hedge fund earned a lot of money by seeing Musk’s interest in GameStop and selling right after.

Wong discloses Silicon Valley’s true leaning, which is toward coding entertaining stuff, which is rather amusing. (This is similar to the true bias of journalism, which is to get the news out as quickly as possible.) This prejudice frequently leads to errors!) Most social media programmers and executives don’t want to be responsible for their users’ poor behavior. They are, however, devoting a significant amount of work to stopping us all from starting flame wars that may engulf the whole internet. Making the Twitter timeline slide sideways, for example, is a lot more fun.

This man used to run Reddit, so I’m inclined to believe he understands what he’s talking about when it comes to user behavior: when left to our own devices, we seem to like constructing Battle Royales in which one wrong move results in weird, catastrophic repercussions. Although Thomas Hobbes was incorrect about how we all act in real life – humans are excellent at cooperating when their existence is at stake — he was correct about the internet, which is red in tooth and claw.

Every unmoderated site falls to shit because a few bad-faith individuals are all it takes to make everyone unhappy. Because the site is frightening, the good-faith users depart, leaving just the bad-faith users. This usually aggravates the situation.

Wong’s post, which is well worth reading in its entirety, shows that Musk is culturally behind the times, as is typical of Musk. Gen Xers grew up in a kinder, gentler environment. “Free expression,” for Musk and many of his Xer colleagues, means avoiding prohibitions on things that could offend religious authorities (for instance, porn). Wong believed the same thing until he became the founder of Reddit and realized the internet was “the MAIN battleground for our culture warfare.”

Wong argues, “This is not the Old Internet.” “That’s no longer there.” It’s a tragic situation. It wasn’t due of the platforms that it died.” No, it’s because there are now a lot more people here, including the wild internet natives (hello!). You may re-enact the internet culture conflicts of the 1990s if you want, but those struggles are no longer relevant.

Joe Wallace
Joe Wallace
Joe Wallace is a reporter with over two decades of experience, writing about the latest and greatest technology news. With the most experience on TheOptic team, Joe strives to help highlight the most exciting developments in the technology world, as well as bring you the latest updates on new and developing technologies from around the world.
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