The former Reddit CEO would like all of you to stop fighting online
“If Elon takes control of Twitter, he will be in a world of pain”, writes Yishan Wong, the former CEO of Reddit. “He has no idea.”
Wong goes on to suggest a version of Matt Levine’s Elon Markets hypothesis. According to Wong, Musk doesn’t “understand what has happened to Internet culture since 2004. Or as I call it, just culture.” Wong’s specific example was Bitcoin – Musk’s public interest in cryptocurrency is relatively recent – but it’s also true that at least one hedge fund made a lot of money noticing that Musk was interested in GameStop and selling immediately.
The very funny thing is that Wong reveals the real Silicon Valley bias, which is towards coding funny stuff. (This is very similar to the true prejudice of journalism, which is to get the news out as fast as possible. This prejudice often leads to mistakes!) Most programmers and social media company executives don’t want to have to oversee the bad guy. user behavior. But they are still taking a long time to stop us from creating fire wars that could engulf everything online. This is much less fun than creating, for example, Twitter the timeline goes to the side.
This guy ran Reddit, so I’m inclined to think he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to user behavior – left to our devices, it seems we love making Battle Royale, where one fake move leads to absolutely bizarre and serious consequences. Thomas Hobbes wasn’t right about how we all behave in real life – humans are very good at cooperating when our survival depends on it – but he’s right on the Internet, which is red in the teeth and claws.
Any unmoderated platform goes to hell because it only takes a few bad faith users to make it miserable for everyone. Bona fide users leave because the platform is scary, and then only bad faith users are left. This typically makes things worse.
Wong’s thread, that is it is worth reading in full, suggests that Musk is, as usual, culturally far behind. Generation X grew up in a different and softer world. For Musk and many of his Xer brothers, “free speech” is about trying to avoid banning things that might irritate religious authorities (eg, porn). Wong thought so too, until he ran Reddit and discovered the Internet was “the MAIN battleground for our culture wars.”
“This is not the old Internet,” writes Wong. “That is gone. Is sad. It’s not because the platforms killed it. “No, it’s because there are a lot more people here now, including wild internet natives (hello!). If you want to reconsider the battles over the internet culture of the 1990s, go ahead. , but those battles are obsolete.