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Former Reddit CEO would like you all to stop bickering online


“If Elon takes over Twitter, he’s in for 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’s happened to internet culture since 2004. Or as I call it, just the 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 Musk was interested in GameStop and sold immediately.

What’s great fun is that Wong reveals Silicon Valley’s true bias of coding fun stuff. (It sounds a lot like the real bias in journalism, which is to get the news out as quickly as possible. This bias often leads to mistakes!) Most programmers and managers of social media companies don’t want to have to control bad user behavior. But they still spend a lot of time keeping us from creating flame wars that could engulf everything online. It’s a lot less fun than doing, say, the Twitter timeline go aside.

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 own devices, we seem to enjoy creating Battle Royales, where one wrong move brings consequences absolutely bizarre and serious. . Thomas Hobbes wasn’t right about how we all behave in real life – humans are very good at cooperation when our survival depends on it – but he’s right about the internet, which is red with teeth and claws.

Every unmoderated platform goes to shit because it only takes a few bad faith users to make it miserable for everyone. Good faith users leave because the platform is scary, and only bad faith users are left. This usually makes things worse.

Wong’s thread, which is worth reading in full, suggests that Musk is, as usual, culturally far behind. Generation X was raised in a different, kinder world. For Musk and many of his Xer brethren, “free speech” is about trying to avoid banning things that might irritate religious authorities (eg, pornography). Wong thought that way too, until he fired up Reddit and discovered that the internet was “the MAIN battleground of our culture wars”.

“It’s not the old internet,” Wong writes. ” Let’s go. It’s 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 (hi!). If you want to revive the internet culture battles of the 90s, go ahead, but those battles are outdated.




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