Exploring the World of Reddit

Exploring further into Reddit I’ve discovered the events that shape the different communities and how these communities vary greatly across the site and the different subreddits. A key factor that differentiates Reddit from other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where you use your real name to interact with people you know, is that users on Reddit operate under pseudonyms giving them more of a freedom to say what they want to people they don’t know.

The best and the worst of internet culture is brought to the surface through Reddit and it can have very real implications on society and people. In August 2014, photographs were stolen from celebrities iCloud accounts. These images found their way across the web and became the focal point of a subreddit named The Fappening. Due to the way that Reddit’s algorithm worked, it being new content that was highly upvoted, this subreddit quickly made it to the front page. This created wide spread discussion on Reddit in a demonizing way creating a toxic technoculture which it is referred to by Adrienne Masanari. It took 6 days for the subreddit to be taken down but similar subreddits are still active to this day such as r/thefappeningdiscussion.

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The #gamergate controversy came around in 2014 that was stemmed from the harassment of game developer Zoe Quinn and began questioning ethics in gaming culture and the protection of gamer identities. In 2013 after the Boston Marathon Bombings, Sunil Tripathi, was wrongly identified as the bomber by Reddit users and his photo was spread online as a suspect causing his family being bombarded with hate messages. These incidents show how an online community can have a huge impact on the real world and how this can quickly become detrimental.

Good has also come out of this online community that have created a positive impact. In 2009 Dan McComas posted on Reddit with the idea of doing a Secret Santa through the Reddit community. It sparked a lot of interest and within days the site redditgifts.com was created. The first Secret Santa had 4380 participants in 62 countries and with a 96% ship rate meaning nearly everyone sent and received a gift. Since then Reddit gifts has expanded to over 280 000 participants in 160 countries showing that an online community can be brought together purely based on honesty and generosity.

The negatives and the positives are vastly different and this shows the range of people on Reddit and their intentions on the site. The lack of accountability of those putting forward negative comments due to the anonymity makes it more appealing to those who would otherwise keep silent in fear of persecution and repercussions. This can be seen as a product of the web, as we can say what we like without feeling the backlash and this creates a desire to engage with others on Reddit.

The role that Reddit plays in terms of world politics has been particularly prominent through the past year. The US presidential election and Donald Trump have been a focus and it’s the way that this online community flooded Reddit through pro trump memes that included Pepe the Frog, spreading theories about the hacked emails of the democratic national committee emails that were published on Wikileaks which was stemmed from a subreddit called the Donald. It dominated the front page of Reddit and eventually caused Reddit to change its algorithm to limit the influence a single subreddit can have on the front page. An article on the site FiveThirtyEight analyses the members of the Donald through an adapted technique called the latent semantic analysis. Through data on active subreddits and the comments it relies on commenter overlap across subreddits to determine what kind of subreddits users are interested by adding or subtracting components.

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These results skew towards a more misogynistic and racist group of subreddits. While this isn’t conclusive that all members of the Donald are misogynists and racists reinforces Trump’s views. Recently, this subreddit has changed its focus onto the French Presidential election in attempt to replicate the US election through their support of Marine Le Pen, using the slogan “Make Europe Great Again”.

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Many of the members on the Donald are real people the presence of bots on the subreddit as well as across Reddit is something very prominent. It’s hard to determine how many bots there are or why they are there. Some bots are harder to pick out than others but their presence on Reddit is real. There is a subreddit entirely made up of bots which collect information from other subreddits and uses the language used in it to create new posts. This may seem useless, but Nvidia is using Reddit to teach artificial intelligence how to use language properly so it can better understand how a conversation works. Reddit is not only incorporating bots into its platform but pushing forward AI technology through the shear volume of content that exists across the platform. This video discusses the evolution of language on Reddit.

 

 

References

Massanari, A 2015, #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures, New Media & Society Vol 19, Issue 3, pp. 329 – 346

Poverty Porn

Poverty porn. A situation we do not want to be in yet we want to look at other in that situation. Poverty porn is defined by Aid Thoughts as

“Poverty porn, also known as development porn or even famine porn, is any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause. Poverty porn is typically associated with black, poverty-stricken Africans, but can be found elsewhere.”

It gives way to the a cultural belief that those from these African nations are not able to help themselves and it is up to us, from our first world nations, to help. It is clear that these countries are suffering through hard time but the notion of poverty porn sensationalises this intensely, creating an idea that only we can save those in need and creates a vulnerability between both ourselves and those in media campaigns

A campaign video by Compassion International really encapsulates this idea of poverty porn and this clear divide of western society and eastern society that creates a very clear dominance of the cultures. The video depicts a young girl who is waiting for a sponsor to sponsor her and demonstrates how this child is impacted by this important moment. It is a highly emotion driven video as most aid campaigns are.

However it is not the emotional aspect that makes this video particularly uncomfortable and demeaning. It invokes this idea of the White Saviour Complex which creates this idea by being a so called ‘white’ individual, this gives you the means to be able to fix the low socioeconomic in these developing in Africa. It reinforces the idea that those living in Africa are simply waiting for the day that a white person will come and save them creating this hierarchy between the western culture and eastern culture. The emotional response of the family heightens this idea further and creates this idea of ‘poverty porn’

While highly emotive stories are seemingly always used it is clear that these methods work and they are being used against those who do donate. The effectiveness of poverty porn can be seen through a campaign by Sunrise Cambodia. This charity portrayed a young girl who was a sex worker and encouraged people to donate in order to allow her to learn to sew. The campaign raised over $200 000. However, this young girl and other children are paid poster children who are not what they are made out to be through these campaigns. This can be seen as an exploitation of both the children and those who are donating.

The concept of poverty porn is also portrayed in countries outside of Africa such as India. The film Slumdog Millionare was considered by many to be poverty porn. In an article by Tulsi Bisht it says that “although the international recognition of Indian artists involved with the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire was cause for celebration, the film itself was fiercely criticised for depicting India in a derogatory, uni-dimensional way. Some critics claimed it reflected a Western fascination with ‘poverty porn’”. By creating a negative view of a country it can create negative stereotypes and perception of the country.

Poverty porn has a negative effect on both those suffering and those viewing this form of media. Creating a stereotypical image of those in need and consistently emphasising it creates distance from the viewer from the real issues. It also simplifies the issues that are occuring in these countries as they focus on mainly children without consideration for the bigger picture.

 

References

Bisht, Tulsi. ‘Poverty Porn’ and the Politics of Representation [online]. Eureka Street, Vol. 19, No. 14, 31 July 2009: 16-17

Kids and Animals

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Winnie the Pooh, Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit. Animals across children’s television shows, movies and story books is everywhere and it’s abundant. The way that children are exposed to animals has through our media can be seen to affect the way in which children interact and respond to animals in the real world. Is this a positive or negative? Depending on what we are teaching them about animals, representing animals in a way that children can connect to them as well as in a way that demonstrates their natural biology is important. It is finding the balance between the two that determines its effectiveness.

It is difficult to deny the role that animals have in our media representation towards children. An article by Megan S. Geerdts called ‘(Un)Real Animals: Anthropomorphism and Early Learning About Animals’ (2016) explores this notion. Geerdts states that more than half of children’s book represent anthropomorphic animals that are represented through language and imagery. She believes that anthropomorphic representations of animals do help the efficiency of children’s learning however the key factor was the language. When anthropomorphism was mixed with anthropomorphic language there was a reduction in their factual understanding of the animals.

What this demonstrates to us is that the extent to which anthropomorphism is used throughout the media that children consume is critical when helping them understand animals. Allowing them to both connect to the animal through an emotional way as well as ensure factual knowledge of animals is a key balance to maintain.

The article The Representation of Animals on Children’s Television by Elizabeth S. Paul also noted that the representation on animals is focused on the nurturing animals and very little is represented in regards to meat consumption of these animals. Paul believes that this is heavily due to the paradox amongst society in which kindness and nurturing towards animals is advocated, society still finds the consumption of meat acceptable. This raises the question of whether it is acceptable to represent the meat consumption industry to children from a young age.

In a journal by Nora Timmerman and Julia Ostertag discuss the message given to children through the media’s portrayal of animals stating that “Anthropomorphism can have its benefits; indeed, children’s literature often uses anthropomorphism to teach moral lessons about how to recognize the self in the other”. It is also important to understand that there is a spectrum of anthropomorphism throughout children’s media. This ranges from animals that are the central characters and are separate from human character, to the relationship between humans and animals, to animals that have human qualities and principles.

This separation is important to make and affects the way that animals in the media are represented towards humans. Establishing a point of connection between a child and an animal can help develop a meaningful connection while anthropomorphising animals to a greater level can create confusion between the differences between animals and humans.

Does the representation of animals in children’s media have a negative effect on children? If so do these negatives outweigh the positives?

I believe that the issues that may arise from anthropomorphism are heavily outweighed by the positive affects it can have on children. Children’s television represent to children a positive way to view and treat animals and furthermore, view and treat people as well. While borders between what is real and what is not may create confusion for children this can be separated by introducing both anthropomorized animals as well as real animals to create a distinction between the two. The representation of animals especially towards children is vastly different from the way animals are viewed by adults and allows for connections to nature around us to be found early in our development.

References

Geerdts, MS 2016, ‘(Un)Real Animals: Anthropomorphism and Early Learning About Animals’, Child Development Perspectives, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 10-14. Available from: 10.1111/cdep.12153

Paul, ES, 1996. The Representation of Animals on Children’S Television. Anthrozoös ,vol. 9, p.169-181
Timmerman, N, Ostertag, J 2011. Too Many Monkeys Jumping in Their Heads: Animal Lessons within Young Children’s Media. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, vol. 16, p.59-75.

Sextchat

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The introduction of the smartphone application Snapchat was a huge game changer in 2011. Front facing cameras had been introduced and now the concept of an image that could only be seen for 10 seconds. This changed the way we took selfies and influenced the nature of the selfies we took, because what consequences could there be to a photo that you could only see for 10 seconds?

Initially launched in 2011 under the name Picaboo, creators Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy discovered the market to sending foolish photos on their smartphones. This then led to the new features such as videos and the ability to annotate these photos and by 2012 the app had taken off. Now with its story feature and filter features the app has over 100 million active users. Now it is dominating  the market alongside Facebook and Instagram but in a very different way.

This idea of a image that can be seen for 10 seconds and then disappears made it a perfect way to sext. Sexting is the sending of nude or semi nude images digitally typically through mobile phone devices. As the number of teens with smartphones increases this type of activity is becoming more prevalent amongst young people. The idea that this image is never going to be seen again makes it all the more appealing to younger generations to send these types of images when the may not otherwise have. Snapchat has changed the way we perceive ourselves and the images we take of ourselves by having an outlet that can be used without the risk of this image getting into the wrong hands. Loopholes do exist with the ability to screenshot images, however the sender is notified when this happens. However, third party apps did arise to get around this.

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Creator Evan Spiegel doesn’t believe that sexting on Snapchat is a big issue stating that

“I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be… I just don’t know people who do that. It doesn’t seem that fun when you can have real sex”

Source

An article by Kashmir Hill called ‘ Three Good Reasons Not To Send Nudes Via Snapchat’ puts the his views of sexting through Snapchat in a negative light by stating that;

  1. The statistical features of Snapchat such as your “best friends”, who are the people you send snaps to the most and the number of snaps you have sent “gamify” sexting.
  2. The loophole in which a recipient is able to screenshot a snap and is then free to distribute the photo without your control
  3. Snapchat encourages blog such as ‘Snapchat Sluts’ in which nude photos sent on Snapchat are willingly submitted to a blog

Generally the idea of sexting on Snapchat can be seen as a moral panic amongst older generations. However, it has become so common amongst the younger generations that the concept barely phases us. So is sexting on Snapchat as scandalous as it is thought to be? Has the shift in the way we take selfies affected us for the worse?

As we move further into a digital age, as well as, having a generational shift in the way we view ourselves and our bodies platforms such as Snapchat only aid the inevitable practice of sexting. Selfies have become a way of expressing ourselves and the nude selfie is now an extension of that.

Hill, K 2012, ‘Three Good Reasons Not To Send Nude Photos Via Snapchat’, Forbes.com, p. 38.

Rodríguez, K., 2016. SnapCHAT: The Genre of the Vanishing Memoir. GRASSROOTS WRITING RESEARCH JOURNAL, p.55.

Poltash, Nicole A.. Richmond Journal of Law & Technology , Summer2013, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p1-24, 24p. Publisher: Richmond Journal of Law & Technology

Reddit – A Digital Artefact

Reddit. The so called “front page of the internet”, and what a front page it is.

After delving into the world of Reddit through my DIGC202 digital artefact, I discovered that it was a platform unlike any I had used before, I wanted to continue exploring the platform of Reddit in order to gain further understanding of why this platform has been so heavily used and how it has retained its popularity even as other social media sites begin to dominate internet culture and how this affects society itself.

This Digital Artefact is aimed to develop my understanding of the platform and how it operates. The operation of bots on Reddit is also a question mark for me that I’d like to explore to find out how these affect the information on Reddit.

The platform has both positive and negative side to it and with Trump’s presidency in the US and memes across every social media outlet, the best and worst of internet culture is brought to the surface. An article by Adrienne Massanari discusses the incidents of surround the #Gamergate and The Fappening and the issues surrounding toxic techno cultures. It also discusses the ways in which Reddit’s algorithms work to highlight some content and suppress others.

This idea also ties into the use of marketing bots on Reddit. The website RedditBot specifically sells software to develop bots that upvote to boost sales by increasing traffic. This kind software affects the authenticity of the user driven content and creating a new type of content across the platform.

Nvidia is using Reddit to teach artificial intelligence how to use language properly so it is able to better understand how a conversation works. Reddit is not only incorporating bots into its platform but pushing forward AI technology through the shear volume of content that exists across the platform

Alexa has statistics on Reddit including where users are from and the traffic of the site which determines where it is ranked globally. The site Reddit Metrics provides statistics on trending subreddits and also provides information on the growth these subreddits. Statistics of the site as well as further research will be able to give me information about how Reddit consumed across the globe and help provide information about its users. This can provide insight into how communities on Reddit engage with each other and how this affects the wider global community.

Politcally, Reddit has been playing an important role in the US election and how people are responding these events. Bots pushing Trump up in polls and rumours being spread about donations he has made are being created through Reddit and are creating very real implications through this platforms and the technologies being introduced to it.

Having all these ideas in mind, I’d like to create my digital artefact through a podcast medium. Having never meddled with the world of podcasts before I’d like to present my research in a way that is interesting and engaging. However, I have not settled on this idea and am still keeping my options open while I continue to research this concept. To explore the different areas of the platform, I’d like to engage with a different topic across a series of podcasts that explore the technologies that are found across Reddit and the cyber culture surrounding the platform.

 

References

New Media & Society Vol 19, Issue 3, pp. 329 – 346 First published date: July-09-2016

The Internet of Fitbits

The internet of things is ever growing and in recent years the Fitbit has become the new and exciting smart watch that tells you all of the information you want to know about your new healthy lifestyle. They record information such as your heart rate, steps, sleep patterns all in the name of health and fitness. However, as the internet of things grows, it calls into question the real necessity of all the products we feel we should be using. Let’s be real, we wouldn’t wear our Fitbit on a night out of drinking and record the stats onto your Fitbit with how many drinks you’ve had. So why do we fall for the false sense of living healthy when for the most part a lot of us are not very consistent.

Products such as Fitbits fall into a pretty niche market when considering those who would use it consistently. Therefore, what makes these devices so popular that we are all running out to buy one?1cq1h6.jpg

The Leak of iCloud

The predominance of hackers on the internet is present more so than ever as more and more people are in possession of smartphones and other smart devices. While hacking is usually associated with government organisations and huge enterprises in films, the reality is, anyone can be a victim. In recent years celebrities have been hit with their photos being leaked. The astonishing part is, it has been done through iCloud.

It’s the work of AnonIB that created a ring of hackers that would break into iCloud accounts and obtain these photographs. These photos were then leaked, creating a devastating affect on the victims.

The interconnected world of the internet is clearly demonstrated through these hacking incidents. It highlights that once its online, it can be accessed by those who are not authorized even through tech giants like Apple.

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