4chan vs. Reddit

It is interesting to read about 4chan on the Washington Post and understand in greater details why the forum is the place to harbor not only hateful contents, but also brew and organize harmful Internet pranks that can have real-life effects.

As an avid user of Reddit, I can?t help but wonder whether Reddit is equally toxic. Just as 4chan has threads like /b/ and /pol/, Reddit also has controversial threads, called subreddits, that have been subjected to criticism for their explicit, hateful and discriminatory contents. Many of these are listed here.

The similarities, though superficial, spark the question of structural differences between these two platforms.

Regarding user operations, 4chan allows almost complete anonymity, while Reddit is more restricted. In addition, contents on Reddit stay (though archived), while those on 4chan do not.

What these policies point toward is transparency. As the article about 4chan and a quick skimming of the forum make clear, users do not need to create an account to join 4chan. They can remain totally anonymous and say whatever they want to say, and such content will disappear in a few hours.

For Reddit, users need to register their account and have a fixed username. This, to a small extent, makes users to be watchful and responsible for what they post, because comments can be traced back to those who make them, and users who violate community policies can be banned.

Because Reddit users have an ID (username) and a history, there is more transparency on Reddit regarding who says and does what on a such a large Internet forum.

Besides these policies on user regulation, Reddit does strive to ban hateful contents, threads and comments. Recently, Reddit banned /r/altright, the subreddit dedicated to the alt-right, and earlier it banned other controversial subreddits as listed in the Wikipedia article above, like /r/jailbait and /r/fatpeoplehate. For sensitive topics like politics, such as /r/politicalhumour, Reddit includes disclaimers and its moderators work hard to remove comments that intend to incense rather than discuss.

It seems to me at this point that Reddit is better regulated and watched. This does not mean, however, that the community is completely safe. Explicit and discriminatory contents are still available, and these communities still remain active. Yet, Reddit is highly personalized, and users can choose to compartmentalize contents to stay away from ?darker? communities. This engenders the question of echo chamber, but that?s not my main point here. My point is that, after looking at both forums, Reddit appears at this point safer and better governed, though I should still be on the lookout while using if I stumble upon any of the more infamous threads.


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