Speaking with Fast Company‘s Jared Lindzon at the Web Summit in Lisbon today, Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit, discussed the social platform’s role in the rise of the alt-right movement and its push for the presidential candidate:
“Social media was lauded for the Arab Spring. Even back then you will find quotes from me saying ‘that’s ludicrous, Twitter and Facebook don’t overthrow governments, people do,’ and celebrating those tools is kind of like celebrating church meetings, and mailing lists during the civil rights movement, or whatever, I guess phone trees would have been the dominant technology for spreading the word and mobilizing people? Those things absolutely enable, they absolutely amplify it, but they aren’t the reason why they happen.
I think what social media did do was it gave the American public a very strong signal that wasn’t necessarily paid attention to. And that’s the really glaring thing for me. I would like to think that a big part of what Reddit can do going forward is taking advantage of the fact that this is the one platform where you have a quarter of a billion people every month who come together in their communities, around common interests. It’s basically a digital town square, a digital dinner table conversation, that actually represents the zeitgeist of some 40 or 50 thousand communities.”