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Read this: Reddit and the anti-establishment

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Reddit and the anti-establishment…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 hello a handful of technology banaras in Silicon Valley has become the Editors in chief of the internet Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Jack Dorsey Twitter and we talked about them all the time but we basically never here in person today.

We will see Hoffman is the founder and CEO of Reddit a multi-billion dollar company and the 7th most visited website in the US is ready.

Is this what the internet should look like a free space for free speech and use platform where anything malicious or just boring to indoors away.

What can we learn from the company's battle against conspiracy theories and white supremacist content and how did a social media site come to take on and humble Wall Street Steve welcome to the show my pleasure.

Illustrious career U2 roommate to the university on the American east Coast who came up with and coded a social media site that is today worth billions.

I'm not doing that Facebook until like you Steve you take us back to June 2005.

It was spring Break of your Senior Year you're studying with a guy named Alexis ohanian.

Oh honey and I don't pronounce it that he will know him and now the husband of Serena Williams you came up with the idea for a website the front page of the internet how to explain Reddit to somebody who's never seen it before complex and how long I have for the sensor in a movie we can work out way into the longest.

It's a place for people can buy the community for pretty much any interest in passion that they may have so I community is range from The Familiar and News politics sports and two in a culture and communities that mean that have.

Station offline at all into support so Communities for people who are parents for the first time or struggling with drug and alcohol addiction places where stocks mean that have a lot of places to turn to elsewhere online or offline, so read it.

It's a little bit of everything but I just core its Communities and its people and what was the question to which read it was the answer mmv.

What you setting out to do that no one else was doing or no one else doing as well only had a single community in so in 2005 the way I would describe red.

It's is that it's a place for you could find a new and interesting cartoon online and I take a little exception to your opening in described as editor-in-chief because we created rabbits as a reaction against I think.

We did we specifically did not want to be The Gatekeepers we believe that people are users with the people the most a store and the best station to the termon.

What's interesting or not when I'm selling these stories to people on high fluting news broadcast Alton after explain not need enormous influence and reach your credit, but the graphics are ready and they might be the sunshine by some people particularly those who look to what happened with GameStop as we're going to come onto you think the red it is a young person's past time.

What do you know about the demographics of those subreddits thousands of thousands of Communities you have no because one of the things.

I think that is unique about right.

It is that we don't insist that their age or gender or location we do know these things to service and things like that is a twice.

We call them.

Let's Pretend that pick people up towards the end of High School you know when they're when they're late teens or early twenties when this starts to develop their own opinions about the world to separate from my parents and then we just keep them.

So they are sweets far is somebody you know 1830s and that continues to grow and expand but it's becoming more bounce roughly 64th in the US in UK at this point.

I mention k70 should just explain it for those who aren't familiar with it MOT some headlines it a few weeks earlier this year basically a Reddit community of subreddit of you as you explain wallstreetbets.

It started calling a members to buy stock in a company called GameStop this is a bricks-and-mortar High Street game store in the US that was doing pretty badly on the stock market and so many Reddit users.

That the share price went up at one point in went from $20 to $400 and Reddit users to quickly not just about the money.

They seem to be making good about the headphones that against GameStop that's where the establishment anti-war Street centre in comes in some genuinely significant establish headphones found headphones found themselves in serious difficulty Who been very Frank about this Stephen you said that you were late to realise what was going on.

When did you first start paying attention to think that was late because I was in it and so I was I think personally relate to observe that the song play Heavy come and mainstream Media story but what Street baths is one of my ass is the community it's a community that specialises in a can of high risk high reward trading to my mini financial investing Reddit Communities on reddit Conservatives that's my guilty Pleasures on reddit and

Watching am unable to the machinations over the last couple of years get excited about the stocks or not GameStop was one of those over the last year in so it's a little bit of a surprise to me when that conversation metastasize in became a national or even global conversation.

It's always I think I look peculiar to me when when when read at least add into the real world quite large, but I think I still have no memory of someone were significantly smaller and it's instrument is a founder CEO centre of this enormous story of global significance about the nature of financial markets today.

I read reports that you came under some pressure from Wall Street figures to take this community is that true and if so, how did that pressure manifest because I can relate to go back to how I open it shows up as a newspaper editor when people don't like stuff.

They ring you up and say stop is that what you

I'm sure they sent him it was there but it didn't make it directly to me.

I know that the hedge funds that are on the wrong side of the streets were having a bad day and I'm sure I showed that was the feeling I had but it wasn't something that meant to mean it was never something was seriously considering.

Let's talk about your business model which has been hugely successful, you indeed I read the Financial Times he raise another 250 million pounds or so in dollars.

Sorry, I should say in February your basic model extended similar to something other advertising driven model in the internet age that we have the other social media websites service industry advertising companies a monitor what users do on their site some extent on other sites to sell that information to third parties and they sell targeted advertising space on their platforms.

How does Reddit make its money so we are in the advertising business and so our customers are Advertiser

Your customers brands that know you already familiar with for sure you're in the UK right now.

This is his Netflix Samsung Google my mother's and we are different from the other platforms there and they're our business is not predicated on the harvesting of personal information and read it personal information and that's important to us privacy as long than one of our values, but advertising credit to connect with their customers around common interests so for example.

We have a community called makeup addiction.

It's for as the name implies people really into makeup if you are a makeup company by the way the makeup companies love-makeup so much for that used to work at a makeup company.

It's a natural fit for them both.

Personally and professionally to be within that community in so for most brands.

There is a community in there in their space.

If not directly for them with the Advertiser can a customer so we don't have to play games around targeting like the other platforms my tattoo and cruelly you have very very as you say very emotionally invested people who advertises know when they're talking those people that people really about the subject which is what an Advertiser wants to know if they want to know the people I invested Frinton to make up your own by advanced publications also own content publishers wide Vanity Fair that relationship were they give you targets for how much you need to raise an ad revenue so advanced or or kindly nast I use them interchangeably.

They bought read it back in 2006 but we span 2012 so they remain a large shareholder, but we are an independent company and have them for quite some time with all of them pasties.

You know are there.

So the business they do of course care about Revenue and so with them you have to talk about going traffic Ryan revenue of all fine products and in all these things.

Would you like to go public at some point yes straight answer yes now.

I say that from speaking from a position of nativity you know we're not publicly and I've not rung a public company but I do think there is an opportunity for symmetry between the ownership that our users feel for their communities and actual I also think that is important for companies to go public and I think in the United States and around the world with spend a lot of time talking about equality and income inequality and one of the ways of closing a cactus to make sure that you're not fast-growing companies are investing opportunities available to everybody you know not just metre institutional investors which is largely coronavirus start.

Is that because your view is that in an age where lottery the very concerned about inequality if capitalism is going to be effective and acquire popular support it needs to spread ownership.

Is that what you want to do give lot of people the chance to feel the good vibes of growth exactly.

I think that's one of the ways that the capitalist system works is by allowing everybody to participate.

So what is a calculation is very humbling frankly to hear someone who's done what you've done to save your tongue preposition of nativity but can I ask you cos you thought about this.

It would be discussed it with financial advisors some of the most powerful tank in America what's the calculation for you that means you would go from be where you are now raising lots of money, but it was very strong evaluation, but not public to say let's do it.

What would it take for you to public? I think it's a couple of important foundational steps that have to take Bristol being public hands with specific requirements and

In terms of reporting and speed the reporting and audit sand and all these things in some we have some work to do a very at that's work, but it's just work, but it does need to be done and dusted time next is I think it's important that we show traction in some of our initiatives and say these things for us.

I think like internationalization and video are known as revenue.

I don't think we have to be fully formed there, but I think we should show enough traction to prove that hey there is that we can demonstrate that does reliable future growth in our business right if you were going about what you are looking for 2-3 years.

What is the time in your mind? It's hard to be honest with the timeline continues to evolve and I can tell you it's not tomorrow.

It's not next month but we do have to do the work.

Then I think it weatherproof a few things out on our business and that can happen sooner or later, but we're not there yet.

Ok we had an interesting convivial friction.

I think it's better at the top of my describe.

You guys as editor-in-chief and I tell you what I think it was I think that you are making a please see you smiling is as I say this out.

Hopefully you grab onto that phrase because this is let me be honest company for a living this is a source of some beef and mum some of your last year's Mark Zuckerberg back in 2016 said Facebook is not a media company sure it's not conventional media company I would argue that people.

Love you.

Tell me to make more and more what you might call editorial decisions.

Let's look at some of the decisions that you have had to make difficult decisions complex decisions with trados around free speech and then we can talk about the semantics of editor-in-chief like Wikipedia Reddit posts and monitors.

You said and essentially regulated by volunteer moderators moderators, so Reddit hairs.

Layers of moderation so the word margarita means something on record on reddit moderators are users who create and moderate Communities so very useless with some extra powers that they have inherited through being the creators of Communities now on either side of the moderators are two other two other important groups above them is ready think the so this is our centralised moderation team.

So this is the sort of people who work get ready who enforce our platform mypolicies who have access to tools in innocent and social policies at scale and then below the margaritas are the Communities themselves so every post on reddit has an up-and-down and every post.

I've read it starts at 0 and has earned its visibility or also could be rejected by the community so either after giving up quotes.

To become popular or may actually received 112 in that be seen by anybody in actually most can't turn on reddit is downvoted by users long before the moderators.

See it and then following the other matter.

It's actually move quite a bit of consent before we see it and ecosystem fair, and I think it's combination of users and employees and people and machines is the only way to scale Mauritian because quite frankly I think people are users are the only people contacting taste to make some of the difficult decisions that need to be made thought deeply about the limits of free speech you've spoken about it repeatedly in 2015.

He said an acquittal the context matters you said I don't think we should try the sweet with just because their viewpoints or something we disagree with there is value in the conversation and we'll decide you need to confront these issues and it 2018 you are.

Reddit policy allowing racial slurs and even possibly open racism to sit on the site and you'll get a new ones dancer, and it says it's important that this is this was the 1st and it was interesting you said on the way in which we think that speech is two separate behaviour from beliefs this means already.

There will be people with beliefs different from your own sometimes extremely so when users actions can flick their content policies.

We take action what point would a racial slur conflict with your content policies, so and then I'll provide a lot of context.

It's easy for me to say there is used a with Malice or as it is a hit for word that that would be in violation of accounting policies and indeed.

It is now of course.

There are usages of such words that are not in violation of our policies.

You know when people are talking about the works when people talking about speech when they're used among certain group.

As a term of endearment when it's a musical work and things like that and so when I told you about the limits of free speech and the contacts there is important and I think it's important that you know one of the things that would be damaging if we sad disorder is not a laugh regardless of context because I think that's missing an opportunity for Society to evolve in trust to even have these conversations about speech and I think conversations about speech or really important to have because it's among.

I think not not only the most complex topics that we as a society need to wrestle with but also one of the kind of bedrock foundations of our Society and so as you quote me over the years.

I think an Evolution to my thinking and 1.

First values that read it is evolved in so I think we have to be honest with ourselves and that Society changes are thinking changes are Billy to articulate are thinking changes you under any circumstances arise, which you can't predict that you might get it a president who challenges some of the limits of free speech Donald Trump very much did let me ask you another because it shows how your think he has evolved into continue by the community calling yourself a support group for men that they were posting misogynistic comments and even have a Katie rape.

Why did that one go beyond repair? Why was that one taken down and are you a person that only decisions as Mark Zuckerberg very much is on Donald Trump on Facebook that family of Communities with seen actually a pattern that is something fairly turn on light community starts off as one thing and evolves into another worse and ultimately problematical or you're really trouble something done this case.

Play Communities that were started for net for lonely man.

You're trying to find a place in the world looking for support and that loneliness better Nestor bitterness turns into anger and then you know that the point where we been then.

We saw that trending towards potentially real violence and I think this is one of the things.

That's important.

Is that many much of the time probably most of the time a community that would be an was not something that we would be on and the tables creation but evolved into that situation, so I think Close monitoring through a few times now in so I can send policies that read it apart from my policies prohibit violence and violence in glorifying violence and bullying and harassment and so after the Communities with Diane are violating those rules or are very close to doing so I should say the spirit of fear.

In fact that we're talking about a bunch of controversial specific examples these examples are not actually at all representatives of credit on the whole I mean.

I love to read it an hour ago before talking to you and I saw a lovely video of a parrot plucking away a cat.

So I just love listening.

I don't give it a false impression that this is all you see already.

It's very much with minority what you see but it's very interesting to talk to you about your thinking which is interesting when you took the decision to Ballina community called the Donald it was one of your biggest Communities three quarters of a million users as big as much bigger than the circulation of British newspapers for comparison.

The people listening to us right now for several years it originated many the transporting memes that have gone viral on sites like Facebook and Twitter could you talk me through your older sister band that group because you must have known the press would see this as Reddit sensor trump supporters might have said that before people and white people read it is overwhelmingly good.

Play one of my favourite things in life that I've learnt from Reddit is that people in the right context are funnier and more interesting and more supportive than I think we give them credit for and so ultimately were talking about a very small number of people who we want to make sure if there are policies are not on our platform and if they are perhaps make trouble but not yet entirely policies that they're influence invoices in proportion to their numbers that is the safe range views should be French so the DAB community dedicated to supporters of Donald Trump it was like believe in 2016 may 2015 and we did all in the spring of 2020 though at that point it was a dead community it was Stormont in advance that way since the fall of 2019 but we had certainly had a challenges with the Donald over the years.

Second unity among other things you mentioned the domains and the news and that stuff is buying large was your within the bounds of our content policy is also a community of trolls of people deliberately.

I think testing our boundaries testing the rules antagonizing red of the company with a great a Reddit community and those are often something must challenge incommunities to deal with because there's savvy enough to know what the rules are and much like a 4-year old testing boundaries like they are trying to find where the line is they walk right up to it may stick their noses over it and pleading you you not to take action and this was a challenge because there's also a community located to the president of the United States and as we talked about before political speech is not as sacred if not in the United States and in liberal democracies, but it's interest.

Political speeches is supremely important.

I hear you loud and clear extraordinary power I hear you.

I understand what you're saying.

You are not conventionally the company's of course you don't Commission contact you are community-driven, but you have the power to through your judgement through your I would humbly submit your editorial judgement.

You have the power to allow a community of 750000 people to eat exist or not to exist that Power which if you're kind of romantic that me and you watch films at Kane used to belong to newspaper men in the 20th century.

You are in a sense editors.

Are you not you are the sensemaking subjective decisions about what should and shouldn't be on life albeit in a different context all what's been community-driven as you are.

I think if you are also romantic like me you have a pathological sometimes detrimental dedication to

The values behind our reasoning in this case authenticity and openness in truthfulness in so it's true.

We do make decisions and when we make decisions about a political community we wear those decisions very heavily in my preference.

Honestly over the long-term as in many areas of red hair is to find a way for the greater community to make this decision stem cells Communities are used to create the Communities they read the rules they enforce these rules the culture.

They don't yet have the ability to make these really large decisions you very open which I'm grateful about how you're thinking has evolved and so these issues including on each where you have to respond to a particulars in the circumstances of a particular time thinking evolved on whether or not regulation of big technology companies in the west Orchard Vine

Because it does seem it's amazing mismatch.

Doesn't there between the demand in the clamor for regulation in what's actually happening that goes regulations hard regulation is hard and you can see this demand and clamor for regulation today which is say it's all over the place and in conflict with with each other or rather the government and politicians asking for regulation are often asking for complete opposite things for example in the United States the Democrats believe the platforms do not remove enough can't they would like us to remove thanks, the Republicans think we removed too much Qatar feel like us to remove less the only thing they did they seemed I found agreements in that what to regulate tech.

What day will go about it and completely different ways.

I think we are perfectly willing to evaluate in the proposed regulation.

You're on its merits.

I haven't seen anything good.


I haven't seen anything yet.

That will solve the problems that the politicians are aiming to solve, so we make a sensible do a lot of conversations with said politicians to try to give them some advice and counsel and like if you're trying to solve x in here is some of the things that maybe we would consider think they're I still think they're all over the place and for better for worse that people close to any useful regulation yep, I want to finish asking you a couple of questions about the future of to my mind reporting this at some distance.

There are a couple of very big and loud argument about the future of the web one is between what you might call the California and western where where you've been one of the pioneers of the leading entrepreneurs and the Chinese version of the word which is a much more Walled Garden it's much more authoritarian frankly and you have a system where the internet is much more used for surveillance and control do you work?

looking at Chinese investment in Africa parts of Asia do worry that the Californian web is losing some momentum to the Chinese web, I do worry about that shutting down the internet to protect an interest power is I think the probably the least democratic thing I can think of the internet as we know of the Western internet grew up in the shadow of democracy read at The Platform grew up in the shadow of democracy and there's an ideal is on that I have that your company and I think runs through a lot of the internet platforms that we know today about about freedom and accessibility and I do think that is at risk in so I I look at the situation very much as you describe which I think there is there is conflicts about the future of Vienna

One of my dreams through rabbits or other work is to fulfill the promise of the end.

It was just to connect people around the world and it's a connect to share.

I think first information and ideas which I think I'll in a slightly fulfilling a promise and hopefully download economic opportunity and I do think that threaten so both the Reddit and I watch late and hopefully everybody cares about the internet's will stand up and fight for the values and the details and how Mauritian works and how she think about speech reader work with all these things the internet needs to be defended globally as well, but there is another principle.

I drink which I want to touch on very very quickly which is about the role of privacy in a future where we're going to have and there seems to me to be a quite big disagreement between Tim Cook about with Mark Zuckerberg about just how how much privacy matters and you know that in the latest update to the next iPhone

Proposing some changes which Facebook feel compromises the openness of the website may be lost if you do that, what I've spent the last decade worried that people didn't care about privacy as I watched this other plants grow past 16 years old so where we are as old is all of them and then order them any of them in and we could I think about privacy to such an extent that a problem hamstrung our business for a while and it's done tonight bruv to be fair and so what is companies grow on his back from scroll and I thought maybe this this this weird Corona via that that is like to idealistic for her own good and maybe this customers users don't care because I see all this information revealing and it's all the platform.

Just don't care.

What day do care they just didn't know what they were doing and what they learn what was happening with their dad and who was being sold to a house being used a very very upset and so I am uncle WhatsApp set in so tusonix that I do feel vindicated now.

I believe it is entirely possible to succeed as in a platform and respect his privacy we could even put the successful business and next user privacy and I have to admit I like going to fight for the opening it great though.

I don't know if they have a lot of credibility in that conversation.

Can I do if my apples consistent stands on privacy and to be fair? I think apple could do better as well.

I think we could all do better and so I'm somewhere and happy that privacy is top of my head for consumers for platforms and for our governments because it is supremely important Steve Hoffman Reddit founder and CEO

Very very much indeed for your time today.

It was my pleasure.

I really enjoyed chatting with you.

Thank you to Hanham a studio engineer and also to Hannah sander are producer.

I'll be back at the same time next week.

See you then.

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