Chapo Trap House Responds to Reddit’s New Policy & Deletions
“Subreddits are like commune cults without the sex.”
Just the other day, Reddit removed thousands of communities, deleting every single word typed in the groups’ long histories, for violating the social media site’s new hate speech rules. Some of these communities called “subreddits” had hundreds of thousands of regular users sharing memes and exchanging comments.
One of those subreddits was r/ChapoTrapHouse, a large group of fans dedicated to the left-wing podcast, Chapo Trap House. I asked CTH co-host, Amber Frost, what she thought of the removal.
Amber: At this point I don’t have anything particularly original to say about it. The tech companies that regulate these platforms don’t really care about free speech or safety, but on a personal level, I’m delighted that disgusting cesspit of pathologically antisocial behavior is being shut down.
When you say “disgusting cesspit” are you referring to Reddit as a whole or a specific subreddit?
Amber: I am referring to the Chapo subreddit specifically, which I have avoided from its inception merely out of general experience with online behavior patterns.
Fan subreddits usually start from a very human place — shared interests and desire for discussion and community with like-minded people, but they have a very distinct tendency to eventually devolve into a place for people to joylessly seethe in unison, with the object of fandom inevitably relegated to a minor point of reference. The demotion of the object of fandom is actually pretty healthy. (After all, how much can you really say about a podcast or radio show you like?)
However, the nature of the forum is insular, so as they grow and expand, the once-fortifying intimate bonds created in the early days of shared fandom are spread thinner and thinner; the forum becomes more and more inward-facing in an attempt to preserve and recreate those bonds. Ironically this almost always ends with the social dynamics breaking down into a cruel, paranoid war of poster against poster. Often, eventually the show itself — whether it’s Chapo or Opie and Anthony — is eventually denounced en masse on the forum at regular intervals.
The last time someone asked me about the Chapo subreddit, it was because there was a campaign among the “fans” for the boys to “fire me” from my own podcast and business that I share with my friends, who also hate the subreddit. It would be more disturbing if it weren’t so hilarious, but there is something about the fan forum medium that genuinely gives a lot of people the impression that not only do they know all of us, but they’re our bosses, HR department, and Very Disappointed Mommies all at once.
Subreddits are like commune cults without the sex.
So do you think it is fair that CTH and r/The_Donald got removed but not other subreddits like the anti-Bernie r/Enough_Sanders_Spam?
Amber: I don’t think anything about the Internet is fair. Why would it be? It’s capitalist media. It’s naive to expect otherwise. I literally don’t care about reddit, nor do I believe that the internet can be relied upon as any medium for left movement-building. It’s not a democratically controlled industry; it’s barely subject to law. You might as well be talking about Exxon mobile not being “fair.”
What do you think of Reddit’s new RULE 1 that states “everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence” but then two paragraphs down states “the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority”.
Amber: Fuck reddit, this entire thing is a frivolous spectacle. None of it rises to the level of political significance and the platform itself isn’t worth fighting for. It’s politically and socially corrosive and if it’s your chosen political battlefield then you’re doomed to lose at a game that doesn’t even matter.
Fighting over the right to be heard on Reddit is like fighting over the right to live in a dumpster.
Nice line. But would you say the same about every other social media site? Despite their problems, social media clearly does have some political significance and political impact, right? Why else would campaigns be pouring millions of dollars into advertising on the platforms?
Amber: Facebook is still the most influential one by far, but that’s mainly because boomers and newspaper-era media consumers use it to interact with people they know, rather than shouting into the void at strangers. That’s changing of course as usage shifts, but I don’t think the politics of social media “has problems,” I think it IS a problem, one that has bloomed in the void of truly democratic media sources. And as for the political campaigns, I wouldn’t put too much stock in their competence or understanding of the media landscape. Remember Lena Dunham rapping for Hillary?
Wow I actually hadn’t seen that Lena Dunham video. I’ve made some bad videos but at least I’ve never made anything worse than that.
I agree social media is a problem. But in 2016, I think it played a big role in making Bernie Sanders a contender, and it probably also helped Trump win. So I think the removal of large social media groups is pretty significant. Got any closing remarks?
Amber: I’d end by saying that the first priority of American socialists should be building our own political institutions based on the political interests of the broadest working class possible. Without that labor base, any online activist strategy we attempt to employ will be at the mercy of a hostile capitalist media.